Electronic Health Records and Ethical Dilemmas

Enhanced portability and accessibility of electronic health records (EHR) are beneficial for improving their performance. However, it is the central ethical concern regarding broad implementation and use of EHR, as there are risks of unauthorized disclosure of private health information (PHI). Therefore, failing to guarantee the security of provided PHI and comply with privacy and confidentiality regulations are the primary sources of raising ownership-related questions. In most cases, this ethical concern is related to a conscious choice of health care facilities, employees, or EHR providers to sell patients’ PHI to outside companies or third parties, which could easily make it public, thus violating privacy and confidentiality regulations (Sittig & Singh, 2011).

Still, there are other ethical and compliance dilemmas related to the adoption and use of EHR. Except for confidentiality and privacy issues, other concerns include software implementation, security breaches, and data inaccuracy (Ozair, Jamshed, Sharma, & Aggarval, 2015). Ethical matters regarding software implementation refer to failing to allocate adequate resources for appropriate setting up and operation of the system, which results in increased risks of system breakdowns and poor performance, not to mention the probability of successful hacking attacks.

As for security breaches, they are closely connected to PHI, as the central problem is the desire to sell personal data illegally regardless of privacy and confidentiality guarantees. Finally, data inaccuracy comes down to wrong input of PHI, which might result in prescription and medical errors as well as medical identity theft, i.e. guiding treatment by misinformation and false claims (Ozair et al., 2015).


Ozair, F. F., Jamshed, N., Sharma, A., & Aggarval, P. (2015). Ethical issues in electronic health records: A general overview. Perspectives in Clinical Research, 6(2), 73-76.

Sittig, D. F., & Singh, H. (2011). Legal, ethical, and financial dilemmas in electronic health record adoption and use. Pediatrics, 127(4), 1042-1047.

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