Health Information Management

HIPAA Q&A: You've got questions. We've got answers!

HIM-HIPAA Insider, November 4, 2013

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Submit your HIPAA questions to Associate Editor Jaclyn Fitzgerald at jfitzgerald@hcpro.com and we will work with our experts to provide you with the information you need.

Q. My email remains encrypted until it is opened. I have received two requests-via email and certified letter-from the patient's parent requesting records be sent by email or mail. I know legally a person may request this, and we must provide this service when we can ensure that the person requesting is who he or she says he or she is. Does a certified letter with recognizable signature or email from a known email address of a parent qualify as verification of the parent's identity?

A. A certified letter (or one sent via regular mail) with a recognizable signature is acceptable proof of identity. The signature on the request letter should be compared with another signature from that individual available in the patient's record, such as the mother's signature on a consent form.

Verifying the authenticity of an email requester is more difficult. It would be reasonable to contact the requester by telephone (using a telephone number on file for that family member) to verify that the individual wants a copy of the patient's record mailed or emailed.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, vice president of health information, Baylor Scott & White Health in Temple, Texas, answered this question for HCPro’s  Briefings on HIPAA newsletter.



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