Q: Like other hospitals, we have had many patients transported via ambulance with COVID-19 symptoms. Once these patients are tested for the virus, are we permitted under HIPAA to disclose their test results to the first responders who treated them and brought them to the hospital? Should the first responders be made aware when they have interacted with a patient who has tested positive?
Q: When our physicians need to talk to a patient’s family about the status of the patient, they usually can do so in a private room near the waiting area. But there have been instances when the private rooms are occupied and the physicians must discuss the status of a patient in the waiting room or in the hallway. Is this permissible under HIPAA?
Q: Is a covered entity permitted to disclose PHI for litigation purposes? For example, if a covered entity is being sued for malpractice, can it present information that would qualify as PHI during the trial? If so, what are the limits on the type of information it can disclose?
Q: We need to train a wide range of employees on HIPAA — from physicians to temporary nursing staff hired through a staffing agency to medical scribes and coders. Should we utilize the same HIPAA training methods across the board? Or do you recommend that we develop different training methods for each department? How should we go about doing that?