Health Information Management

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

Briefings on HIPAA, February 1, 2016

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

Q: Our front desk receptionist has asked the following question regarding residents who are admitted to our long-term care facility. If someone calls the front desk asking for information on a resident, such as "Is (resident) in your facility?" or "What is their room number?", would this information be considered PHI?


A: The answer is not straightforward when it comes to long-term care. It all depends on the care setting. If care is provided in an assisted living facility and the assisted living facility does not provide healthcare services, such as nursing care related to treatment or a clinic on-site, the information is not PHI. On the other hand, if the facility is a skilled nursing facility (SNF) and is providing what HIPAA defines as healthcare, it would be considered PHI. That doesn't mean the receptionist cannot share the information about whether a resident is at the facility or the resident's room number. Similar to a hospital, a long-term care facility could maintain a facilities directory. Unless the resident has specifically requested he or she not be included in the facility directory, you can share whether a resident is at the facility and where the resident is located in the facility. Providing more information would be prohibited. Review the long-term care regulations in the state in your state.

Editor’s note: Chris Apgar, CISSP, president of Apgar and Associates in Portland, Oregon, answered this question. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.

This is an excerpt from a member only article. To read the article in its entirety, please login or subscribe to Briefings on HIPAA.

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