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Is Your NPP Your Best Defense?

Author: Lee, Michael R.

Source: Journal of AHIMA

Publication Date: April 2003


In the event of a privacy-related legal challenge, the content of your organization’s notice of privacy practices (NPP) will be a focal point for both plaintiff and defense arguments with respect to the protected health information (PHI) disclosure activities of your organization. Is your....

Journal Q&A (4/98)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: April 02, 1998


Q: I am trying to find out if AHIMA has any position on the names and room numbers of hospitalized patients being left unattended at an information desk in a hospital lobby. If just the name and room number—no other information such as age, religion, etc.—is listed so that vi....

Journal Q&A (5/98)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: May 02, 1998


Q: I am currently employed by an organization that is implementing a long term care demonstration program for the frail elderly. I am in charge of the database for the demonstration. I'm writing policies and procedures for release of information and confidentiality and would like t....

Journal Q&A (1/01)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 01, 2001

Q: What form must a subpoena duces tecum take in order to be valid?

A: A subpoena duces tecum commands a person to produce certain documents or evidence in court. The form that the subpoena must take to be valid is a matter of state law, but generally, a subpoena must contain the following....

Journal Q&A (1/01)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 01, 2001

Q: Can a healthcare facility release health information for marketing purposes?

A: There is a growing demand for and supply of health information for uses that are far removed from patient care or the payment process. It is imperative for a facility to establish a system of controls for id....

Journal Q&A (1/01)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 01, 2001

Q: What is the difference between confidential and nonconfidential health information?

A: Health information can be classified into two categories: confidential and nonconfidential. Confidential information is obtained during the course of a confidential relationship between a patient and....

Journal Q&A (1/02)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 02, 2002


Q: A couple were on vacation in my city when the husband suddenly became ill and died in our facility. The wife requested copies of the record to take home with her. She had listed herself as next of kin. Was it correct to give her a copy of the record?


A: The answer to this qu....

Journal Q&A (1/02)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 02, 2002


Q: Our fiscal intermediary (FI) has recently informed us that we are obligated to notify them whenever an attorney requests a record of a Medicare patient. Is that true?


A: It appears to be true. The Medicare Intermediary Manual states:


Provider Receives Reques....

Journal Q&A (1/03)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 02, 2003

Q: When is it legal to disclose protected health information (PHI) to clergy?


A: If the individual is informed in advance of the possible disclosure and has the opportunity to object, the HIPAA privacy rule allows a covered entity to disclose directory information to clergy. Directo....

Journal Q&A (1/03)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 02, 2003

Q: Is faxing patient information legal under HIPAA?
A: If the covered entity is permitted to release the information (for treatment purposes or by authorization, for example), then using a fax machine is allowed. The privacy rule requires the entity to provide appropriate administrative, techn....

Journal Q&A (1/03)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: January 02, 2003

Q: Does HIPAA allow clinicians in our home health facility to pull their own records?
A: Your facility must make a reasonable effort to limit the access of your clinicians to the PHI they need to perform their duties. You will have to determine what policies are reasonable. As employees, the c....

Journal Q&A (11/00)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: November 02, 2000

Q: How long is an authorization to release information valid?
A: For the most part, federal law does not specify a length of time for which authorizations to disclose information are valid. In Confidentiality of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Patient Records (42 CFR, Chapter I, Part 2), the....

Journal Q&A (11/04)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: November 02, 2004


Q: As a covered entity, do I need to have satisfactory assurance (as required by HIPAA) that an individual has been notified when I am served with a search warrant for a patient's protected health information (PHI)?
A: No. A search warrant is issued by a judge and is considered the same a....

Journal Q&A (3/02)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: March 02, 2002

Q: Does the individual to whom a patient has granted durable power of attorney for financial matters have the right to access and authorize use or disclosure of the patient’s protected health information (PHI) under HIPAA?


A: An individual granted durable power of attorney for....

Journal Q&A (3/98)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: March 02, 1998


Q: Cellular phones are very popular and are a convenient way to increase communication. Should we place any restrictions on the use of cellular phones to discuss patient information?

A: Cellular phones operate on radio frequencies, which means anyone tuning into that f....

Journal Q&A (5/01)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: May 02, 2001

Q: Does the new HIPAA privacy rule require hospitals to obtain patient consent prior to sending copies of dictated reports and test results to the patient's physician?

A: Unless the HIPAA privacy rule published on December 28, 2000 (45 CFR Parts 160 through 164) is modified by the Bush ad....

Journal Q&A (5/02)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: May 02, 2002

Q: In light of HIPAA restrictions on protected health information, I’m concerned about our HIM department’s practice of accepting HIM students for professional practice experience. What should be considered in deciding whether to continue this practice?


A: HIPAA’s pr....

Journal Q&A (5/98)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: May 02, 1998


Q: The facility that I work for is planning to use an outside copy service. How can we be sure it will protect our patient information?

A: Start by evaluating the potential companies to ensure that they are reputable and provide quality services. Next, ask the various ....

Journal Q&A (6/00)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: June 02, 2000


Q: I work for a small physician practice. Until recently, physicians would take home patient records to dictate in the evening. Unfortunately, one of our physicians' cars was burglarized and 30 records were stolen. What should we do?
A: The loss of this information could cause problems....

Journal Q&A (6/02)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: June 02, 2002

Q: Our facility is developing our notice of privacy practices under HIPAA. We need to decide how we will communicate with individuals when we make changes to our notice. What are the acceptable methods for communicating with our patient population? Do we have to send a paper copy to everyone whose....

Journal Q&A (6/03)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: June 02, 2003

Q: Under the privacy rule, how should a physician’s office handle a request from parents for a written statement recommending limitation of their child’s activities at school?

A: Most covered entities have policies requiring written requests or authorizations for disclosure of....

Journal Q&A (6/03)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: June 02, 2003

Q: What are a covered entity’s legal responsibilities when a former employee breaches confidentiality of information gained during his or her employment period?

A: Individual state laws would affect the outcome of litigation if charges were pressed through civil action. If the organ....

Journal Q&A (7/02)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: July 02, 2002


Q: I have requested the immunization records from a patient’s former healthcare provider with the patient’s written permission. The former healthcare provider refuses to send the immunization records because the patient has a balance on the account. Is this legal?


A:....

Journal Q&A (7/02)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: July 02, 2002


Q: I work in a clinic setting. An attorney has requested copies of a patient’s entire record. The record includes reports dictated by one of the clinic physicians at a local hospital during the patient’s hospitalization. The attorney has the patient’s permission. Are we allowed....

Journal Q&A (9/01)

Author: AHIMA Staff

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: September 02, 2001

Q: My facility's records contain a variety of psychiatric documentation including therapists' notes from their treatment sessions with patients. How can I determine what requires special protection under HIPAA? Do I need to separate some of the documentation from the medical record? Currently all p....

Journal Q&A (9/02)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: September 02, 2002


Q: A developmentally disabled adult was recently admitted to our hospital. The patient was accompanied by his older sister. The sister indicated her brother could not write but that he could draw an "X." Because the patient doesn't have a court-appointed guardian and his parents are deceased,....

Journal Q&A (9/03)

Author: AHIMA Professional Practice Team

Source: AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: September 02, 2003

Q: Under HIPAA, how should covered entities respond to requests from public health officials who state that they need protected health information (PHI) to carry out their duties?

A: The privacy rule recognizes that PHI may be needed to respond to threats to public health, including the....

Keep Out: Unsecured PHI Inside

Author: Journal of AHIMA Staff

Source: Journal of AHIMA

Publication Date: March 2017


Crumbling, decaying, and abandoned hospitals aren’t just physically dangerous examples of urban decrepitude—they also could be prime targets for medical identity thieves who know what they’re doing.


Take the case of Chicago, IL’s Edgewater Medical Center, a....

Last Rights: ROI and the Deceased

Author: Hughes, Gwen

Source: In Confidence (newsletter) | AHIMA Q and A

Publication Date: March 02, 2000


Question: Who can authorize the release of patient health information on behalf of a deceased patient?
Answer: The individual authorized to consent to the release of patient health information on behalf of a deceased patient varies by state. Usually, the personal representative of a dec....

Law Changes Patient Access to Clinical Lab Reports

Author: McLendon, Kelly

Source: Journal of AHIMA

Publication Date: October 2014



The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) continues to look for avenues to allow greater patient access to their own health information so that they may be more active in their healthcare management. HHS recently created final rules that remove the Clinical Laboratory Improveme....

Low-Tech Threats in a High-Tech World

Author: Rollins, Genna

Source: Journal of AHIMA - website

Publication Date: April 2011



Despite the rise of health IT, healthcare providers still face daily privacy and security risks of the mundane variety—paper records are misplaced, improperly disclosed, or released without confidential information redacted. No matter the opportunities and risks that technology bring....

Management Practices for the Release of Information

Author: Bock, Linda J.; Demster, Barbara; Dinh, Angela K.; Gorton, Elisa R.; Lantis, James R. Jr.

Source: AHIMA practice brief | Journal of AHIMA

Publication Date: November 2008


Exchange of health information is an essential function to the provision of high-quality and cost-effective healthcare. The information should be complete and timely for its intended purpose. While this sounds straightforward, often it is not an easy task in the complex medical and legal envir....

Managing Exceptions to HIPAA's Patient Access Rule

Author: Hughes, Gwen

Source: Journal of AHIMA

Publication Date: October 2001




The HIPAA final privacy rule requires that covered entities allow individuals to access the medical and billing records maintained about them. However, the rule describes 10 exceptions. Accordingly, healthcare providers must establish a way to identify the medical and billing records....

Managing HIPAA as Gatekeeper

Author: Amatayakul, Margret

Source: Journal of AHIMA

Publication Date: September 2004


An unfortunate result of the HIPAA privacy rule is the emerging use of HIPAA as a gatekeeper, restricting the appropriate fl ow of protected health information (PHI). HIPAA is being cited as a reason not to disclose information without patient permission when needed for treatment, payment, or....

Medical Identity Theft and the Red Flags Rule

Author: Apgar, Chris

Source: Journal of AHIMA - website

Publication Date: April 2009


Continuing our Health Information Privacy and Security Week series, today Chris Apgar, CISSP, president of Apgar & Associates LLC, takes a look at medical identity theft within the context of the Red Flags Rule.

Much is reported in the news about identity theft including new cat....

Mind Your Business Associate Access: Six Steps

Author: Sullivan, Tori E.

Source: Journal of AHIMA

Publication Date: October 2002


It's April 10, 2003, and a privacy officer is reviewing her policies for the imminent privacy regulations, title II of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. The compliance deadline is April 13, 2003, and she is already feeling stressed about meeting the date.....

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