Corporate Compliance

Information protection and disaster relief

Compliance Monitor, November 18, 2005

Q. Are there limits on our ability to disclose information for disaster relief purposes?

A. If the individual whose information is sought is present and competent, the covered entity may release the information if

  • the individual agrees
  • the individual does not express an objection
  • the covered entity reasonably infers that the individual does not object

If the individual is not present or competent, the covered entity may determine whether the disclosure is in the best interests of the individual and disclose only the PHI that is directly relevant to the individual's healthcare.

A covered entity may forego both of the above requirements if the requirements would interfere with the ability to respond to the emergency circumstances.

For more information see Section 164.510(b) Uses and Disclosures for Involvement in the Individual's Care and Notification Purposes of the Bricker & Eckler Web site.

Editor's note: Attorneys from Bricker & Eckler, LLP, answered this question. This is not legal advice. Consult with your attorney for legal matters.

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