Health Information Management

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

HIM-HIPAA Insider, January 19, 2015

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

Q: The agency I work for wants to purchase magnetic signs with our name and logo to place on vehicles of case managers when they make home visits. This would identify our case managers as being in a neighborhood for legitimate business purposes. Does this practice violate our patients' rights under HIPAA since anyone walking or driving by would know the resident is receiving care from our agency?
A: You should perform a risk analysis before making this decision. Consider the reason for purchasing signs, the size of the signs, whether you will remove the sign if a patient objects, and the nature of your agency. Using a sign for an agency that provides in-home psychiatric or addiction counseling services might be of more concern than one for a home health agency, for instance. When you have answered all these questions, decide whether the small risk to privacy is worth the benefits your agency foresees.
Editor’s note: Chris Simons, MS, RHIA, director of health information and privacy officer at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Keene, New Hampshire, answered this question for HCPro's Medical Records Briefing newsletter. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.

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