Physicians can give out protected health information (PHI) to a patient's loved ones even if they are not legally recognized as relatives, the federal Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently said.
The office, under the aegis of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently issued a set of documents to provide physicians with a clearer understanding of when PHI may be given out. It structured the information as an FAQ for efficient reference in an effort to explain the impact on medicine of evolving societal trends — such as same-sex spouses and dependents of all legal marriages — as expressed through changing terminology.
“The FAQs make clear that the permissive disclosures are not limited by the sex or gender identity of the person,” the AMA stated on its website.
The OCR, in conjunction with its affiliated Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, also included a fact sheet to illustrate when the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) allows disclosures of PHI in support of public health.
Examples include reporting disease, supporting medical surveillance of a workplace and identifying individuals who have been exposed to a communicable disease.
Health office explains when 'protected' isn't 'prohibited'
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