Health Information Management

Is it a HIPAA violation to have a patient sign-in sheet at the front desk of an outpatient facility?

HIM-HIPAA Insider, November 6, 2006

No. However, you should evaluate your current practices in light of HIPAA's minimum necessary rule. This requires covered entities to use or disclose the minimum amount of information needed to fulfill the disclosure's purpose.

Instead of using one sign-in sheet for all patients coming into the clinic during the day, many clinics now have patients complete a half-sheet form and hand it to the receptionist. The next patient sees only a pad of blank forms, so he or she has no way of knowing what patients have previously come to the clinic. Other clinics have patients fill out a small label, peel it off, and hand it to the receptionist. Both of these practices provide better privacy protections than a full sign-in sheet.

Editor's note: Mary Brandt, president of Bellaire, TX-based Brandt & Associates, LLC, answered this question. This

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