Health Information Management

HIPAA, patient labels, and armbands

HIM-HIPAA Insider, March 17, 2009

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Q. Is it a breach of patient privacy and confidentiality if we print the patient’s picture on patient labels, which are on each page of the medical record, and armbands without obtaining written consent? (We are a behavioral health center.)

A. Getting written consent to photograph a patient is advisable, and that consent form should indicate how you will use the photograph. In the case of a behavioral health center, patients may be particularly sensitive about having their photograph on every page of their medical records.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, answered this question that originally appeared in the March issue of Briefings on HIPAA. Brandt is president of Brandt & Associates, Inc., a healthcare consulting firm in Bellaire, TX. She is a nationally recognized expert on patient privacy, information security, and regulatory compliance, and her publications provided some of the basis for HIPAA’s privacy regulations. She is also the former director of policy and research at the American Health Information Management Association.



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