Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

HHS Releases FAQs about Medical Privacy Rule. (Answers in Plain English)

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

HHS Releases FAQs about Medical Privacy Rule. (Answers in Plain English)

Article excerpt

The US. Department of Health and Human Services has released a new guidance document about the federal government's medical privacy rule.

The 123-page document provides clear answers to questions about portions of the medical privacy rule, which is part of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Physicians and other "covered entities" must be in compliance with its provisions by April 14, 2003.

In plain English, the guidance document answers questions about the medical privacy rule that have caused some confusion. For example:

Q: May psychiatrists and other practitioners provide group therapy to patients with family members present?

A: Yes. The rule considers the disclosure of protected health information during group therapy to be "treatment disclosures," which may be made without an individual's authorization. The rule generally permits the disclosure of personal information to a family member or other person involved in an individual's care.

Q: Does the medical privacy rule allow parents to see their children's medical records?

A: Yes, generally There are three instances when parents would not be allowed access:

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