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HIPAA Privacy Rule

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HIPAA Privacy Rule
HIPPAA through privacy rule in 45 CFR 164.510(b) gives permission to covered entities to discuss information that could be relevant to involvement of family members, a spouse, friends or other individuals identified by a given patient, regarding patient’s health care or payment. Information can also be shared with the family and friends if based on sound professional judgement even if the patient does not object. For instance an entity a physician can discuss treatment with a friend being present after asking the patient to allow the friend into the treatment room, or the doctor can discuss the payments of the patient with any family member. This is important since the patient may be incapacitated to solve financial issues, or the patient may need close care that hospital staff cannot offer all times.
The Privacy Rule also permits professional experience and judgement to covered entities to make understandable inferences on the patient’s interests to allow another individual to act on behalf of him/her. During emergencies or critical medical issues, information to relevant persons will be of necessary even without a consent of the patient.
As long as professional physician consider using appropriate and reasonable safeguards in communication protection, a physician can use any technique of communication, including writing letters, oral communication, e-mail or facsimiles. Communication among the physician is fundamental since a patient may be handled by several physicians or entities.

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As a result, consulting other physicians who were handling the case during different shifts or transfer of a patient is important.

The Privacy Rule demands the practitioners to make reasonable efforts by limiting the amount of protected information that a physician discloses or uses to minimal scale that is useful to accomplish the purpose of the disclosure or usage. However, it does not mean that the physician passes information to a different provider for the purpose of treatment, neither the physician acquiring the information from the other for purposes of treatment. Importantly, the minimum standards should not corrupt the practitioner’s ability to give appropriate treatment. Besides, minimum necessary standards should not apply if the information is disclosed directly to the patient or pursuant authorization from the patient.
Yes. It is important to an extent that these activities enable patients to learn other patient information and names. This is an incidental disclosure to the physician, and hence acceptable under HIPAA. However, precaution should be taken by a physician in limiting the amount of information that could be incidentally disclosed in this method.

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