from online journal of issues in nursing
jeanette ives erickson, rn, ms; sally millar, rn, mba
caring for patients while respecting their privacy
in 1996, hipaa or the health insurance portability and accountability act (hipaa) was enacted into law. this law has had a significant impact on the health care industry including the need for numerous changes in the way we communicate with our patients, their families, and with each other. this law provides rights to patients and safeguards for employees. it affects everyone in a health care setting. since the days in which the nightingale pledge was written, nursing has stressed the importance of confidentiality regarding all patient matters. the current code of ethics for nurses (ana, 2001) is clear in intent and meaning as it relates to the nurse's role in promoting and advocating for patient's rights related to privacy and confidentiality. for nurses, hipaa is an endorsement of our previously articulated responsibility to our patients. the purpose of this article is to remind nurses of the importance of keeping patient information private. this reminder will come first as hipaa is reviewed and the implications of this act for nurses is discussed. the reminder will also come as challenges to maintaining privacy and strategies for promoting privacy are presented.