Physician Practice

Q&A: Sharing patient PHI with another physician

Physician Practice Insider, June 30, 2015

Q: Do providers need written permission to discuss a patient’s care with one another? The facility where I work recently received a call from a provider who said he is treating a patient that was previously seen by a provider at our facility. However, we do not have this provider’s name listed on the patient’s HIPAA consent form and cannot reach the patient to verify that the new provider is treating him or her. Specifically, the provider is looking for information pertaining to a procedure performed on the patient at our facility last year. What information can we disclose to the provider in this instance?
A: No, HIPAA clearly does not require written permission to share information for treatment, payment, or operations. Check your state statutes, though, as they may be stricter, especially regarding information considered especially sensitive. Assuming your state law does not require it, you may share information as necessary for treatment.
I recommend you ask the caller to put the request on letterhead or a fax cover sheet and fax or mail it to you so you have a paper trail should there become an issue. In this way, the requestor is going on record that he or she has a treatment relationship with the patient.
Editor's note: Chris Simons, MS, RHIA, the director of health information and the privacy officer at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Keene, New Hampshire, originally answered this question in Medical Records Briefing. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.

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