Health Information Management

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

HIM-HIPAA Insider, October 26, 2015

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

Q: I received a request of information for a deceased patient's record. The patient passed away almost 80 years ago. How do I handle this?

A: The HIPAA omnibus rule clarifies that a patient's privacy must be protected for 50 years after death. So, there is no expectation that a record this old would be protected under HIPAA. However, I would be curious as to who was requesting it and why. Also, many organizations destroy records once their state's retention rules permit. Consider looking at your retention policies to avoid these kinds of time-consuming requests.

Editor's note: Chris Simons, MS, RHIA, answered this question for HCPro’s Medical Records Briefings newsletter. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.



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