Corporate Compliance

PHI and the medical staff

Compliance Monitor, May 18, 2007

Q: A cardiologist thinks he has the right to access our hospital's daily admission listing (including mental health patients) in search of anyone who may be a patient in his private practice. He thinks it is important to say hello and know what's going on with them; he sees this as related to continuity of care. Our hospital allows the medical staff to access information regarding their patients when the physicians are attending, consulting, or surgeons involved in a particular episode of care. Should we make the entire patient listing available to all medical staff members?

A: Many hospitals allow medical staff members to access complete census lists, but your hospital has taken a more limited approach that better protects patient privacy. If this physician is not involved in the patient's care during hospitalization, there's no need for him to know that the patient is in the hospital. If the patient has cardiology problems that need evaluation during hospitalization, the patient will probably tell the attending physician who his or her cardiologist is, and the attending physician can call him in on a consult.

Thanks to Mary Brandt, president of Bellaire, TX-based Brandt & Associates, LLC, for answering this question.

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