Joint Commission, NCQA call for more privacy protections

Patients may withhold crucial information

Saying patients may withhold important information because they fear losing their privacy, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) are calling for measures that will improve protections on patient privacy.

Patients’ reluctance to divulge information could result in an increased risk of misdiagnosis and improper care, according to a report released jointly by the two groups. They say they will consider additional accreditation requirements to encourage managed care groups and other providers to improve the ways they protect patients’ privacy.

Their recommendations include establishing periodic audits that ensure compliance with confidentiality policies, improved informed consent procedures for patients to release confidential health information, and more education of consumers about how medical information is used.

The Joint Commission and the NCQA noted that research activities need more attention and urged managed care organizations to look at how patient confidentiality might be better protected in research studies.