Corporate Compliance

Tip: Review your procedures for access patient information in an emergency

Healthcare Auditing Weekly, November 4, 2008

Organizations must establish procedures so employees know how to obtain electronic protected health information (ePHI) during an emergency. Consider these compliance tips:
  • Review your contingency plan to determine what processes you have in place to provide rapid access to ePHI in an emergency. Have backup copies of any ePHI you’ve deemed critical. Also create plans for restoring the system and data both inside your own facility and at an alternate site.
  • Clinicians must be able to gain rapid access to ePHI for patient care. In all but the smallest organizations, more than one person usually can grant access in a crisis. Document the names of those individuals, their roles, and the process for expedited access.
  • If you work in a very small organization, review who has administrative level access, and be sure more than one individual can provide access in an emergency. This does not mean your organization must routinely give privileges to a second individual. Instead, you may choose to keep a special emergency-use user ID and password in a sealed envelope so that person can respond to an immediate need.
This tip is adapted from The Compliance Officer’s Handbook. For more information about the book or to order your copy, visit HCMarketplace.

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