Health Information Management

Q&A: Airlines calls

HIM-HIPAA Insider, June 1, 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?

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.

Editor’s note: Mary Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, president of Bellaire, TX-based Brandt & Associates, LLC, answered this question. This is not legal advice. Consult your attorney for legal matters.

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