Patient Privacy Rules (HIPAA) Are You Still Confused?

July's issue of the Job Center Newsletter discussed the new HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Privacy Rule and its effect on your credit union HR staff.

 
 


July's issue of the Job Center Newsletter discussed the new HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Privacy Rule and its effect on your credit union HR staff.

The HIPAA privacy rule sets a national standard for accessing, filing and handling of medical information while allowing the uninterrupted flow of information necessary to provide high quality health care. The most prominent provisions of the new rule are those pertaining to the release of confidential medical records to third parties without the patient's written authorization.
Since it went into effect in spring of 2003, the new Privacy Rule has caused widespread confusion and uncertainty among patients, the medical community and the rest of us. The reason behind this confusion is the misunderstanding of the situations under which the release of protected medical records is permitted without prior written authorization of the patient. Another reason for this confusion is erring on the side of refusing to release information in order to avoid being in violation of the Rule.

Everybody is complaining about this new Rule and the widespread frustration and confusion that it has created. Patients are complaining of the long forms they have to fill out each time they pay a visit to a doctor's office. Family members and friends can't find out how their loved ones are doing because hospitals and medical staff will not release any information over the phone unless the patient first authorizes it! Physicians can't get test results to patients. This hinders the flow of medical information in the name of protecting privacy.

The persons handling protected health information of your credit unions' employees need to carefully take a closer look at the Rule, which reveals that it does in fact explicitly allow the release of information without a patient's authorization for treatment reasons. Understanding this point in particular alleviates the confusion surrounding the new Rule and relieves the frustrations that are shared by patients and the medical community.

Hope this clarifies the New Privacy Rule to your credit union HR staff in their daily management of protected employee health information.

Click here to read more about HIPAA.

 

 

 

Sept. 8, 2003


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