Health Information Management

Q&A: Are staffing agencies business associates?

HIM-HIPAA Insider, July 26, 2011

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Q: If a covered entity needs to contract with a staffing agency to provide temporary staff (e.g., when an employee is absent due to illness), is the staffing agency a business associate? The staffing agency believes it is not.

A: The staffing agency is correct; it is not a business associate. The HIPAA definition of "workforce" includes employees, temporaries, volunteers, and contracted employees. If temporary staff is supplied by the service agency, the temporary staff becomes part of the covered entity's workforce. This means the covered entity must provide at least some privacy and security training and reasonably ensure that temporary staff members adhere to its privacy and security policies, procedures, and practices.
 
Editor’s note: Chris Apgar, CISSP, president of Apgar & Associates, LLC, in Portland, OR answered this question in the July issue of Briefings on HIPAA.



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