Health Information Management

HIPAA Q&A: Family members who are physicians

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 25, 2010

Q. A patient admitted to the hospital has a close family member who is a physician with privileges at the same hospital. This physician is not involved in the patient’s care, but the patient has given permission for this physician to see his or her medical information. May the physician access the information electronically (i.e., via the hospital computer system)? Or is this a breach because he is not the attending physician? Must he contact the attending physician to access the information?

A. Competent adult patients may authorize release of their information to anyone they choose. If you have written authorization from the patient to release information to this physician, you do not need permission from the attending physician. You may allow the physician to access the record electronically if the patient has authorized the physician to review his or her complete record. If the patient has limited the information that may be disclosed to the physician, you should provide paper copies of the information to meet minimum necessary requirements.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, answered this question. This is not legal advice. Consult your attorney regarding legal matters.

Most Popular