HIPAA privacy rule came in effect on 14th April, 2003 and regulates usage and disclosure of some parts of information that’s held by employer health plans companies, health care providers and clearinghouses. Privacy rule of HIPAA manages Protected Health Information (PHI). PHI mainly includes all the medical records and payment history of a patient.
Under HIPAA privacy rule, covered entities are required to disclose Protected Health Information within 30 days of request to the individual. Covered entities are also required to disclose the information when a professional suspects illegal or criminal activities like child abuse. Such cases are required to be reported state authorities, immediately.
PHI can also be discloses when it is essential for treatment, health care operations or payments. In some other cases, the covered entities will need permission from the individual to disclose his PHI. But the entities must make sure that only as much information is disclosed as essential for the purpose. The entity that’s disclosing the information must make efforts to ensure that no unnecessary information is disclosed. They are also required to inform about the disclosure of information to any authority, in advance.
All the disclosures should be documented and recorded to keep track of PHI given to various sources. A privacy official should be appointed by covered entities to manage all these information. A contact person should also be appointed who will be responsible to handle all the complaints and all the officials in the covered entity should be trained to handle PHI.
The protected individual also gets many rights, under HIPAA privacy rule. He can request the rectification of any inaccurate information. He has the right to expect complete confidentiality of the information he communicates with his doctors and other medical practitioners. He can also ask the doctor to communicate with him in a particular time-span or through a particular channel, to maintain his privacy. The individual can file a complaint in Department of Health and Human Services office, if he finds any violations in his privacy rights.
HIPAA Privacy rule is helping many individuals to protect their privacy and medical history.