Patient’s Guide to HIPAA Part III: What You Should Know About Uses and Disclosures

Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Uses and Disclosures: Does HIPAA Allow Uses and Disclosures Without My Approval?

Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 3: What You Should Know about Uses and Disclosures (FAQ 58 of 65)

Yes, does it ever. The HIPAA rule allows dozens of different uses and disclosures without any need for patient consent or authorization. The rule permits so many uses and disclosures that it is hard to count them. The rule has about five pages of dense type describing allowable uses and disclosures of health records.

Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Uses and Disclosures: What Are Uses and Disclosures Required by Law?

Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 3: What You Should Know about Uses and Disclosures (FAQ 59 of 65)

We want to discuss the category of uses and disclosures required by law. If you read privacy policies, you may see this term a lot. For purposes of this discussion, we will focus on disclosures rather than uses. HIPAA recognizes that other laws sometimes require the disclosure of health records. In one of the shortest sections dealing with disclosure, HIPAA says that a covered entity can make a disclosure that is required by law.

Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Uses and Disclosures: What Are the Allowable Uses and Disclosures?

Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 3: What You Should Know about Uses and Disclosures (FAQ 60 of 65)

We will list each HIPAA category of allowable use and disclosure, together with some discussion as appropriate. (If we included every detail of every disclosure, it would double the size of this guide.) A covered entity that must comply with the HIPAA rule needs to know all the specifics, but an informed patient generally only needs to be generally aware of the categories of uses and disclosures. Every covered entity’s notice of privacy practices should include some information about each type of allowable disclosure. Those who want to know more can read the rule itself.

Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Uses and Disclosures: What Should I Do if Asked to Sign an Authorization to Disclose my Record?

Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 3: What You Should Know about Uses and Disclosures (FAQ 61 of 65)

Although not everyone who asks you to sign an authorization will have a sinister motive, you should be cautious in signing an authorization for more disclosure of your information. Here are some things to look out for:

Patient’s Guide to HIPAA – Uses and Disclosures: Do I Need a Disclosure Authorization to Care For My Elderly Parent?

Roadmap: Patient’s Guide to HIPAA: Part 3: What You Should Know about Uses and Disclosures (FAQ 62 of 65)

Maybe. If you are helping a parent, other relative, or even an unrelated friend or neighbor, HIPAA allows a provider to disclose to a person who is involved in a patient’s care. These people are sometimes called caregivers, and the rule governing caregivers is discussed elsewhere. (See FAQ 58.) While the HIPAA caregiver policy usually works well, it may be useful to have a written authorization from the patient. This is good advice especially if you will be caring for someone for a long time, if there are many health care providers involved, or if you expect to have to deal with an insurance company or Medicare. Don’t give away your original authorization. Keep copies because you may need them regularly. If you are giving care to someone at a hospital or nursing home, bring a copy with you at all times. The nurse who knows you may not be there tomorrow.