Health Information Management

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

HIM-HIPAA Insider, March 30, 2015

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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: Can family members of a deceased patient obtain the medical records of the deceased if it is relevant to their own plan of care and family history?
 
A: Yes. The HIPAA Privacy Rule allows covered entities (CE) to disclose a deceased person's PHI to family members and others involved in the person's care or payment for care prior to his or her death, unless doing so is inconsistent with any prior expressed preference of the deceased person that was known to the CE. Information released to these individuals should be limited to the minimum necessary. If a complete copy of the patient's record is requested, obtain written authorization from the executor of the deceased person's estate or his or her next of kin, as prescribed by state law.
 
Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, vice president of health information, Central Texas Division, Baylor Scott & White Health in Temple, Texas, answered this question for HCPro’s Briefings on HIPAA newsletter. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.



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