Health Information Management

HIPAA Q&A: You've got questions. We've got answers!

HIM-HIPAA Insider, November 4, 2013

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

Submit your HIPAA questions to Associate Editor Jaclyn Fitzgerald at and we will work with our experts to provide you with the information you need.

Q. My email remains encrypted until it is opened. I have received two requests-via email and certified letter-from the patient's parent requesting records be sent by email or mail. I know legally a person may request this, and we must provide this service when we can ensure that the person requesting is who he or she says he or she is. Does a certified letter with recognizable signature or email from a known email address of a parent qualify as verification of the parent's identity?

A. A certified letter (or one sent via regular mail) with a recognizable signature is acceptable proof of identity. The signature on the request letter should be compared with another signature from that individual available in the patient's record, such as the mother's signature on a consent form.

Verifying the authenticity of an email requester is more difficult. It would be reasonable to contact the requester by telephone (using a telephone number on file for that family member) to verify that the individual wants a copy of the patient's record mailed or emailed.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, vice president of health information, Baylor Scott & White Health in Temple, Texas, answered this question for HCPro’s  Briefings on HIPAA newsletter.

Want to receive articles like this one in your inbox? Subscribe to HIM-HIPAA Insider!

    Briefings on APCs
  • Briefings on APCs

    Worried about the complexities of the new rules under OPPS and APCs? Briefings on APCs helps you understand the new rules...

  • HIM Briefings

    Guiding Health Information Management professionals through the continuously changing field of medical records and toward a...

  • Briefings on Coding Compliance Strategies

    Submitting improper Medicare documentation can lead to denial of fees, payback, fines, and increased diligence from payers...

  • Briefings on HIPAA

    How can you minimize the impact of HIPAA? Subscribe to Briefings on HIPAA, your health information management resource for...

  • APCs Insider

    This HTML-based e-mail newsletter provides weekly tips and advice on the new ambulatory payment classifications regulations...

Most Popular