Corporate Compliance

Q&A: Voice mail

Compliance Monitor, February 16, 2011

Q: May a preadmission nurse leave messages (e.g., “This is a reminder that your surgery is tomorrow; please don’t drink or eat anything after midnight.”) on an answering machine or mobile phone voice mail?


A: Yes, as long as the nurse does not specify the type of surgery or the name of the practice. Leaving the name of a specialty practice or the type of surgery, especially on an answering machine, can allow unauthorized individuals access to the patient’s PHI. Asking patients beforehand whether it is okay to leave such messages on an answering machine or voice mail is always best (45 CFR 164.502[a][1][i]).

This question and answer tip was adapted from the February 2011 issue of Briefings on HIPAA. More information about Briefings on HIPAA is available at the HCMarketplace.



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