Corporate Compliance

Q&A: Disclosing information for emergency flight discounts

Compliance Monitor, March 4, 2009

Q: When airlines call to confirm that a patient died in the hospital (due to family members asking for emergency flight discounts), can we disclose this information?

A: Yes. The privacy rule permits covered entities to disclose general information about a patient if a requester asks about him or her by name. In this case, you may confirm that the patient has died and provide the date of death, if needed. You may not provide information about the patient’s diagnoses or cause of death.

This question was answered by Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS in the article Q&A: Patient answering machines, e-mail communications, and more” featured in the March 2009 issue of Briefings on HIPAA. For more information about how to subscribe to this monthly newsletter visit the HCMarketplace.

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