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
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.
here to read more about HIPAA.