JACKSON, Mich. -- (BUSINESS WIRE) -- MiraMed, Global Services, Inc. (MiraMed) cautions healthcare providers to know the rules and regulations regarding the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) in light of the Office of Civil Rights’ (OCR) recent release of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) final rule. Considering the recent tragedies that have shocked our country, as well as the increased penalties for violating HIPAA, questions regarding disclosing PHI to protect against such tragedies have arisen. On January 15, the OCR reminded healthcare providers that the Privacy Rule does not prevent a covered entity’s ability to disclose necessary information to law enforcement, the patient’s family members or others when there is a belief that the patient presents serious dangers to him/herself or others.
The Privacy Rule requires covered entities to implement safeguards ensuring the privacy of PHI and sets forth the circumstances under which covered entities may use or disclose PHI. The Privacy Rule generally prohibits a covered entity’s use or disclosure of PHI unless the patient authorizes it or the Privacy Rule otherwise permits it. Certain permissible uses and disclosures of PHI do not require patient authorization the patient’s opportunity to agree or object, including uses and disclosures to avert serious threats to health or safety.
A covered entity may, consistent with applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, use or disclose PHI, if the covered entity, in good faith, believes the use or disclosure is (a) necessary to prevent or lessen serious and imminent threats to the health or safety of a person or the public; and (b) to a person(s) reasonably able to prevent or lessen the threat, including the target of the threat. Notably, the presumption of good faith belief applies only to this particular provision of the Privacy Rule. Importantly, disclosures of PHI must satisfy both HIPAA and State law requirements.
Because HIPAA and tragedies have shared headlines, providers are reminded that permissible disclosures may involve serious threats to health or safety. While many are likely revisiting their HIPAA policy manuals, it may behoove them to consider a policy regarding disclosures made to avert serious threats to health or safety.
Headquartered in Jackson, Michigan, MiraMed Global Services stands as the premier global provider of business process outsourcing solutions to healthcare organizations nationwide. MiraMed partners with hospitals, health networks, physician practices and related industry service organizations to provide a broad portfolio of customizable solutions, uncover and capitalize on hidden financial opportunities, improve productivity and ultimately increase profits.
MiraMed pairs healthcare industry experts with world-class processes, infrastructure and technology to deliver meaningful and measurable results. This proprietary model enables sustainable change by delivering a complete, customizable "end-to-end" solution devised to meet a client's own unique financial and organizational needs.