Health Information Management

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

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 20, 2014

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

 

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

Q: The state department of health usually requests ED log books to determine the number of patients treated for certain health issues at the facility where I work. Is the department of health authorized to request these log books to gather information for data collection? Although HIPAA states that anyone a covered entity (CE) shares PHI with is a business associate (BA), one of my colleagues told me that our organization does not need a BA agreement to exchange PHI with government entities. How does HIPAA apply in this situation?
 
A: CEs can share certain information with the government for purposes defined in the HIPAA Privacy Rule. For example, PHI may be shared for the purpose of a Medicaid or Medicare audit, for public health purposes, to report abuse, and so forth. In these cases, the government is not a BA and is entitled to the information.
 
The state department of health is likely not entitled to view the full ED log. If the department is interested in, say HIV/AIDS admits or admits for communicable diseases, it would be entitled to that information, but not to information about all patients who are treated in the ED.
 
A word of caution, though. Unless allowed, such as when OCR decides to audit, you need to adhere to the minimum necessary standard even when disclosing patient information to government agencies. Also, it's a good idea to ensure the government agency requesting information is authorized to access the PHI. For example, if a request is received to disclose PHI to law enforcement, only the minimum necessary can be disclosed, and if possible, only a limited data set can be disclosed. It's always a good idea to authenticate the requestor before disclosing PHI and document you authenticated who you were sharing PHI with.
 
Editor’s note: Chris Apgar, CISSP, president of Apgar & Associates, LLC, in Portland, Oregon, answered this question for HCPro’s Briefings on HIPAA newsletter.

 

 



Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

    Briefings on APCs
  • Briefings on APCs

    Worried about the complexities of the new rules under OPPS and APCs? Briefings on APCs helps you understand the new rules...

  • HIM Briefings

    Guiding Health Information Management professionals through the continuously changing field of medical records and toward a...

  • Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies

    Submitting improper Medicare documentation can lead to denial of fees, payback, fines, and increased diligence from payers...

  • Briefings on HIPAA

    How can you minimize the impact of HIPAA? Subscribe to Briefings on HIPAA, your health information management resource for...

  • APCs Insider

    This HTML-based e-mail newsletter provides weekly tips and advice on the new ambulatory payment classifications regulations...

Most Popular