Health Information Management

Q&A: Active duty members on the move

HIM-HIPAA Insider, July 20, 2009

Q. The Department of Defense allows some active duty members moving to a new base to hand-carry their own original medical record to the next base. Is this a HIPAA violation? This seems to represent a privacy and security concern by risking the loss or theft of the original medical record.

A
. It is not a HIPAA violation to allow any patient to transport his or her own original medical record from one location to another.

However, this represents what could be a significant risk. Even allowing the individual to carry a copy of his or her medical record (versus the original) from one location to another represents a privacy risk.

Although HIPAA does not prohibit an individual from carrying his or her own medical record from one location to another, a covered entity should discontinue such practices to better protect the privacy and security of the record. Covered entities are allowed to adopt more stringent privacy and security practices than required by HIPAA. Such practices would be appropriate in this case.  

Editor's note: Chris Apgar, president of Portland, OR-based Apgar & Associates, LLC, answered this question. This is not legal advice. Consult your attorney regarding legal matters.

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