Health Information Management

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

HIM-HIPAA Insider, August 17, 2015

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Q: I am a hospital-based registered nurse working in a same day surgical environment. I'm wondering whether patients' ID bracelets should be removed prior to discharge and shredded after discharge. Also, should pediatric patients' IDs, including difficult-to-remove allergy bracelets, be removed prior to discharge?

A: If the patient is an adult, it's not necessary to remove the patient's ID bracelet. Whether it's removed does not represent a privacy issue. If the patient walks out with his or her ID bracelet, he or she is then responsible for disposal. It is recommended that if the patient is a minor, especially a minor who has not reached the age of informed consent, the ID bracelet and the allergy bracelet be removed. Not removing the ID bracelet is not necessarily a violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, but it does represent a risk if the minor disposes of the bracelet, say, in the parking lot.

Editor’s note: Chris Apgar, CISSP, president of Apgar & Associates, LLC, in Portland, Oregon, answered this question for HCPro’s Briefings on HIPAA newsletter. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions.

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