Health Information Management

Ensure confidentiality when faxing patient information

HIM-HIPAA Insider, June 30, 2009

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HIPAA does not address faxing patient information specifically, but does protect it under the privacy rule like any other form of health information—written, spoken, or in electronic form. Faxed patient information can easily fall into the wrong hands, which would be a violation of privacy. Your organization should have a policy that describes what information staff members may fax and the guidelines for doing so.

Ideally, when staff members fax patient information, they should make sure they send information to a dedicated fax machine in a secure location and notify the intended recipient when they are about to send it so he or she can be ready to pick it up.

If staff members know they will receive a fax that contains patient information, they should tell the person faxing the information to warn them ahead of time so they can be present to receive it. Your staff members should never let faxed patient information lie around on a fax machine unattended. They must immediately take it off the machine before others can see it.

Editor’s note: This tip was excerpted from HCPro’s book The HIM Director’s Handbook.



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