Q&A: Disclosures to first responders

July 30, 2020
Medicare Web

Q: When informing first responders that they have been in contact with a COVID-19–positive patient, is it sufficient to merely tell them that one of their patients ended up testing positive? Or does the name of the patient need to be provided?

A: HIPAA’s minimum necessary requirements would apply in these cases. If there is no need to disclose the patient’s identity, don’t do so.

Editor's note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS is a healthcare consultant specializing in healthcare regulatory compliance and operations improvement. She is also an advisory board member for BOH. This information does not constitute legal advice. Consult legal counsel for answers to specific privacy and security questions. Opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent HCPro or ACDIS. Email your HIPAA questions to Editor Kevin Duffy at kduffy@hcpro.com.

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