Corporate Compliance

HIPAA Q&A: Facility directories

Compliance Monitor, April 25, 2012

Q. If a patient says he or she doesn’t want to be in the facility directory, what does this mean?

A. Patients have the right, under most circumstances, to keep the fact that they are receiving care confidential. (Exceptions might include reporting to public health agencies, insurance companies that are paying for the care, etc.)

Patients who choose not to be in the directory should not be listed; this means calls, visitors, mail, etc., would not be forwarded to the patient, nor would the patient’s general condition be released to callers. In the event of an inquiry regarding these patients, the appropriate response is something to the effect of “I am sorry, that patient is not listed in our facility directory. Perhaps you should contact the family.”

Editor's note: Chris Simons, RHIA, director of health information and privacy officer at Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock in Keene, NH, answered this questions in the May issue of 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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