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HIPAA Violation

If a question was asked to one of our patient’s daughters at church, such as “How is your Mom, I see she missed her dental appointment” is this a HIPAA violation?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates that covered entities comply with requirements to protect the privacy and security of health information. A covered entity is an individual or organization that uses and/or exchanges confidential medical data. Common covered entities include doctors, clinics, company health plans and government programs that pay for healthcare.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects “individually identifiable health information”, including data that relates to:

• an individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
• the provision of health care to an individual, or
• the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual;

and data that identifies an individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify an individual. Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).

So, an employee of a dental office who sees a patient’s relative at church and states that the patient missed her dental appointment is not violating the HIPAA privacy rule. Though the employee may be considered a covered entity, he didn’t disclose any health information. Now, if he had said that he was concerned the patient missed her appointment because last time she had gingivitis then a violation most likely occurred since the patient’s health condition was disclosed.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 12th, 2016 at 8:34 pm and is filed under
Labor Laws.
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