Sample Nursing Essay Paper on Patient Safety and Quality

Patient Safety and Quality

Patient confidentiality is a fundamental concept of health care and is a major concern to physicians, nurses and other medical professionals in the execution of their responsibilities. The concept of confidentiality is enshrined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that guarantees patients security and privacy of their health information and medical records (Erickson & Millar, 2005). HIPAA states that patients have a right to expect that the information given to a health care professional is to be certainly used the specific reason stated.  HIPAA also argues that patients have the right to control access to their personal health information and medical records.

The issue of patient confidentiality impacts nursing practice in various ways.  Health care and nursing professionals are not allowed to illegally discuss and share any patient’s health information outside the clinical setting. Also, nurses should not leave or expose a patient’s health information to unwanted eyes or persons. The common law of confidentiality expects nurses to be effectively educated about the significance of maintaining patients’ safety, as well as the use of technology systems that contain patients’ health information.

To maintain patients’ privacy, nurses should always recognize and accept HIPAA guidelines and rules. HIPAA states that nurses should often log out of the patients’ electronic files to prevent easy access to such information by unauthorized personnel (Erickson & Millar, 2005). On document handling, HIPAA requires nurses to effectively dispose of unneeded health documents by either shredding them immediately or putting them in a locked bin in order to be shredded later. Moreover, nurses are required by HIPAA to never leave sensitive papers and files containing a patient’s health information unattended to and should store them in reception areas where they can never be easily accessed by unwanted persons.


Erickson, J., & Millar, S. (2005). Caring for Patients While Respecting Their Privacy: Renewing Our Commitment. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing10(2). Retrieved from