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State Laws and Ethics Codes

State Laws and Ethics Codes

Sample Answer 

State Laws and Ethics Codes

Legislation and code of ethics play a fundamental role in stipulating and providing direction that guides practice. In nursing and other medical disciplines, professional codes of ethics and laws passed by Congress have traditionally laid a foundation for practice, articulating the ‘dos and don’ts.’ For example, as noted by Epstein & Turner (2015), associations like the American Nurses Association (ANA) has stipulated a range of codes of ethics related to the confidentiality, security, and privacy of health or medical records of patients that healthcare facilities and nurses must follow, including the creation, storage, and sharing of electronic health records (EHRs). Equally, Congress has passed a range of laws to facilitate the same, ensuring that care facilities and nurses (or other medical workers) ensure patient data’s privacy, confidentiality, and security. Similar rules have been implemented at the state level. This paper, therefore, specifically seeks to compare the differences and/or similarities between a national agency (the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics) and a state organization (State of Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Rules and Laws). Next, the article will explore the significance of three ethics codes and three state laws/statutes linked with privacy, security, and confidentiality of patient mental and health records and any related issues pertinent to electronic health records (EHRs).

Differences/Similarities between the State of Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Laws/Rules and the American Counseling Association Ethics Codes Websites

There is a huge difference between the American Counseling Association (ACA) ethics codes website and the State of Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Rules and Laws. The former is a national membership-based association or organization that specifically focuses on educating its members (nurses, counselors, and so on) on codes of ethics and advocating for best practices in the counseling profession. The intent is to ensure that all counselors understand and follow nationally-recognized rules when diagnosing mental diseases and treating patients, ensuring that the rights, safety, security, and confidentiality of patient data are maintained across the country. For instance, the ACA Code of Ethics website provides guidelines and rules on ethical decision-making, counselor licensure requirements, key competencies, and other critical information associated with ethics, such as filing complaints and lawsuits, risk management, and so on. The website also has enabled access to newsletters, electronic journal access, counseling journals, book proposals, and so on. The site is purely for best practice advocacy and education.

On the other hand, the Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners is a licensure and examination board that specifically creates and maintains qualification and performance guidelines. The board examines and licenses behavioral health experts and professionals in various counseling fields, including substance abuse, social work counseling, and family and marriage therapy. The board also essentially controls the practice of these professionals to protect the public.

State Laws or Statutes

Throughout history, U.S. Congress has passed a number of revolutionary health laws or established certain statutes that are exclusively meant to protect the security, privacy, and confidentiality of patient health or medical records. Particularly, with the rise of the internet and computer-based technologies, such as electronic health records (EHRs) and computerized physician order entries (CPOEs), lawmakers have moved first to enact a number of legislation aimed at regulating the sharing of patient data through this easier-to-use and quicker but highly vulnerable digital systems.

The first law ground-breaking created was the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) in 1996, which compelled the HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) to formulate policies that protect the security and privacy of particular health data. In response to this directive, the HHS printed what is popularly termed as the HIPAA Security Rule and the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The latter stipulates countrywide standards/rules for safeguarding or fortifying particular health data that is specifically established and shared via electronic media. The former (Security Rule) operationalizes or puts into practice the contents of the Privacy Rule. It resolves the non-technical and technical “covered entities” or securities that institutions must install to protect individuals (Cohen & Mello, 2018).

The second law passed by Congress was the HITECH (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act) Act in 2009 – essentially created to oversee EHR adoption of EHRs by healthcare facilities and professionals. The legislation as well as uprooted the glaring hurdles that hampered the full implementation of HIPAA by expanding the ‘bottlenecks’ evident in both the Security Rule and Privacy Rule. For example, it expanded the duties of business associates of HIPAA-covered entities, ensuring that they not only abide by the HIPAA regulations but that notifications are wired to individuals affected whenever health data is compromised (Cohen & Mello, 2018). Providers have become more vigilant of the privacy and security of patient data. The last law that promotes confidentiality by protecting patient privacy and security is the FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act). FERPA safeguards the security and privacy of education records of students, including health records. The law bars the disclosure of student information without written consent (Fuller, 2017).

Codes of Ethics

Codes of ethics do not guarantee that ethical behavior is upheld in practice but rather stipulate the moral standards, principles, and values through which the actions of professionals can be measured. Each profession has its own unique code of ethics that governs its practice. The American Counseling Association, for example, has outlined clearly several ethical codes or rules concerning privacy, confidentiality, and security of patient information that all counselors must follow. The first one is the “Respect for Privacy” rule (B.1.b), which requires counselors to respect the private information of their clients. They must seek their permission through a written consent before sharing or using this private data. The second is the “Respect for Confidentiality” code (B.1.c.) that requires counselors to safeguard confidential data of current and prospective clients. Disclosure of such information is also through appropriately written consent with valid ethical and legal justification. The third is related to “Disclosure or Transfer” (B.6.g.) or private information. Counselors must seek written consent from clients to be able to share or transfer stored information to legitimate third parties (American Counseling Association, 2014).


American Counseling Association. (2014). 2014 ACA Code of Ethics – As approved by the ACA Governing Council.

American Counseling Association. (n.d.). About ACA.

Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. (n.d.). About us: Welcome to the Board of Behavioral Health Examiners.

Cohen, G., & Mello, M. M. (2018). HIPAA and protecting health information in the 21st century. JAMA, 320(3), 231-232. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.5630

Epstein, B., & Turner, M. (2015). The Nursing Code of Ethics: Its value, its history. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 20(2). DOI: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol20No02Man04

Fuller, M. (2017). An update on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. New Directions for Institutional Research, 172, 25-36.


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State Laws and Ethics Codes

Explore the Arizona state and local laws on the State of Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners Rules and Laws website and the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics Resources website.

Write a 750-1,000-word essay including the following:

State Laws and Ethics Codes

State Laws and Ethics Codes

  1. Are these two resources complementary or adversarial? What makes you think so?
  2. Analyze the importance of three state laws or statutes and three ethics codes related to privacy, security, and confidentiality of patient medical and mental health records, including any pertinent issues related to electronic records.

Support your opinions with two or more scholarly resources.

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