Jul 9, 2020
category: Management


Provision of health services by Health Institutions to patients is governed by legal obligations which are dictated by Acts contained in the Constitution. For instance, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) provides certain obligations. Two among the rest are about protection of a family’s medical history genetic information and protection against carrier testing. The current paper intends to describe conclusively the legal obligations of health service organizations.

Official Title of the Law

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) is a law provided by the Constitution of the United States. The Act was enacted on the 21st of May 2008. The passing of the Act was made by the 110th Congress of the United States. The Act can be cited in 110 to 233 of the public law. Additionally, the Act can be cited in section 122 of the constitution statute 881. The aim of the Act is to prohibit health insurance firms and employers from using genetic information of individuals.

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In the Act, health insurers along with group plans of health are prohibited from denying any healthy person coverage and charging the person a higher premium based on the genetic predisposition of the individual in developing any disease later in life. Furthermore, the Act bars employers from making use of a person’s genetic information in making job placements, hiring staff, firing people. and making promotions. Besides, the Act consists of certain amendments that were made to the two laws.

The first law is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 while the second law is the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. On the 24th of April 2008, the bill was passed by the United States Senate with a vote of 95-0 after which it was sent back to The House of Representatives while it passed again with a vote of 414-1. The only person opposing the bill was the Congressman Ron Paul. The bill was there after signed into law by the President of the United States George W. Bush.

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Health Care Organization Obligations to Meet Patient’s Legal Rights

The federal law and the state law both provide a several obligations to be met by health care organizations to their patients. Two among them are: first protection of a family’s medical history genetic information. Title II of The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act states that “discriminating against any employee or applicant based on their genetic information is illegal”. The second obligation is protection against carrier testing.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act provides in Title II that “Any employment agency, labor organization, and covered entities are not entitled to request, require, or purchase any genetic information, hence limits the revelation of an individual’s genetic information”. According to the Act, it is wrong to make use of information on a person’s genetic to decide on the eligibility they have to establish their premiums or rate their amount of contribution to an organization.

The act finds it demining to request or subject a person to a test of the gene. Moreover, the Act argues that employers are not supposed to decide about whom to hire, who to assign jobs, which individual to promote, or which people to fire based on the genetic information of the individuals. In addition, the Act finds it counterproductive to request an individual and to require him/her to buy genetic information about them.

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Consequences for Non Compliance

When an organization fails to attend to the provision of Acts provided by the United States Constitution then certain consequences are bound to occur. The latter are both civil and criminal consequences. Certain consequences may prohibit working in collaboration with the government which may impose a ban for up to five years of operation on an organization that breaks the laws dictated by the country’s constitution. Another consequence of breaking the law is court summons and charges.

Cases taken to courts may arise from the selective application and negligence of the law. When a person taken to court is found guilty, then he/she is subjected to a fine by the court or faces direct incarceration. According to the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 of section 37 of the Constitution, when an offence on health or safety is committed with consent, which can be attributed to neglect by a director, a manager, a secretary, or any other officer, then the organization and that specific individual can be taken to court.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) provides several obligations for health service organizations: first, the protection of a family’s medical history genetic information and second, the protection against carrier testing. When an organization fails to meet the two obligations, it will face certain consequences.

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For instance, the first obligation to protect a family’s medical history genetic information is met with a lawsuit in a court of law for a health service organization if it fails to comply with the law. An example is a case of a complaint by a patient who argued that HMO disclosed a person’s PHI without permission by sending all her medical records without authorization to an insurance company. When the OCR investigated the case, it concluded that the form used by HMO to disclose the information was invalid when considering the privacy rule.

According to the Constitution, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”) provide that individuals’ information on their health should be properly protected to allow for a flow of health information which is used to provide and promote quality care to patients, and protect the public health. From the stipulation of the law, together with the obligations provided by The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), the health organization was subject to a lawsuit.

Looking at the second obligation provided by The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, there should be protection against carrier testing. For instance, a case is documented by a state center for health sciences that disclosed health information about a client to his employer without any authorization from the client. The act led to the state center being cut off from collaboration with the government for certain time since they were adhering to demands given by the government.

Among the demands was revising the methods used to authorize the release of information of patients to their employers without seeking authorization. The constitution has a law to support the securing of information of individuals against their employers. The law is referred to as the freedom of information act of 2000.

Health Service Organization Management Actions to Meet Legal Obligations for Patients Rights

There are numerous ways to enhance the compliance of health care organizations to obligations of protecting patients. One of the ways is the use of patient portals which would help a patient to access information about their health at any time of the day from any part of the globe. The information given might include doctor visits, summaries of discharge, medications given, immunizations, allergies of the patient, as well as lab results. With such information available to the patient, it would be hard to reveal the information to third parties wrongly.

The second change to implement would be a technological change, where new computers and software are introduced to the health organization facility. The aim of such a move is to ensure that the organization has data integrity. With updated software it is easy for health attendants to identify each patient’s medication, their last attendant as well as what meals they are expected to take. Health providers then would be more precise in their treatments and have more accuracy.

The third most required change is a training of the staff members. It would be important to train all involved parties on how to use any newly introduced form of technology such as software for managing medication which would help in consistency and accountability.

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