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Q: The MDS manual contains a form that nursing homes should hand out to protect the privacy of the MDS data. How should we distribute this notice and does the resident need to sign it?

Julia's PPS Chat, December 7, 2005

A: You are correct-the revised Resident Assessment Instrument (RAI) User's Manual, published December 2002, includes a privacy statement on p. 1-10.

This is a new addition from the 1995 RAI User's Manual. The revised manual states on p. 1-9 that the Privacy Act of 1974 protects confidential health information. Specifically, the manual states, "The Privacy Act requires by regulation that all individuals whose data are collected and maintained in a federal database must receive notice. Therefore, residents in nursing facilities must be informed that the MDS data is being collected and submitted to the state MDS database."

The manual answers your question about distributing this information by stating, "This form is a notice and not a consent to release or use MDS data for healthcare information. Each resident or family member must be given the notice containing submission information at the time of admission."

There is no requirement that the resident or family member sign the statement-rather, you only need to be sure that the resident or family member receives the notice. You might want to include this notice as part of your admission packet and explain this statement to the resident and family during the initial admission process. Also, you can answer any questions that the resident might have regarding the purposes of the MDS form.

Make sure to distribute this informatiom to the appropriate people. Privacy of the data on the MDS is very important. Your residents and families need to know how this MDS data is being used.

Until we chat again about families attending care plan meetings-