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Disclosures to Friends and Family

Can a patient have a friend or family member pick up a prescription for her?

Can the fact that a patient has been "treated and released," or that a patient has died, be released as part of the facility directory?

Can the phone number of a patient’s room be released as part of the facility directory?

Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule permit a doctor to discuss a patient’s health status, treatment, or payment arrangements with the patient’s family and friends?

Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule permit hospitals and other health care facilities to inform visitors or callers about a patient’s location in the facility and general condition?

Under the HIPAA Privacy Rule, may a health care provider disclose protected health information about an individual to another provider, when such information is requested for the treatment of a family member of the individual?

If I do not object, can my health care provider share or discuss my health information with my family, friends, or others involved in my care or payment for my care?

If I am unconscious or not around, can my health care provider still share or discuss my health information with my family, friends, or others involved in my care or payment for my care?

Do I have to give my health care provider written permission to share or discuss my health information with my family members, friends, or others involved in my care or payment for my care?

If my family or friends call my health care provider to ask about my condition, will they have to give my provider proof of who they are?

Can I have another person pick up my prescription drugs, medical supplies, or X-rays?

Can my health care provider discuss my health information with an interpreter?

How can I help make sure my health care providers share my health information with my family, friends, or others involved in my care or payment for my care when I want them to?

If the patient is present and has the capacity to make health care decisions, when does HIPAA allow a health care provider to discuss the patient’s health information with the patient’s family, friends, or others involved in the patient’s care or payment for care?

If the patient is not present or is incapacitated, may a health care provider still share the patient’s health information with family, friends, or others involved in the patient’s care or payment for care?

Does HIPAA require that a health care provider document a patient’s decision to allow the provider to share his or her health information with a family member, friend, or other person involved in the patient’s care or payment for care?

May a health care provider discuss a patient’s health information over the phone with the patient’s family, friends, or others involved in the patient’s care or payment for care?

If a patient’s family member, friend, or other person involved in the patient’s care or payment for care calls a health care provider to ask about the patient’s condition, does HIPAA require the health care provider to obtain proof of who the person is before speaking with them?

Can a patient have a family member, friend, or other person pick up a filled prescription, medical supplies, X-rays, or other similar forms of patient information, for the patient?

May a health care provider share a patient’s health information with an interpreter to communicate with the patient or with the patient’s family, friends, or others involved in the patient’s care or payment for care?

May a doctor or hospital disclose protected health information to a person or entity that can assist in notifying a patient’s family member of the patient’s location and health condition?

May a health plan disclose protected health information to a person who calls the plan on the beneficiary’s behalf?

May a hospital or other covered entity notify a patient's family member or other person that the patient is at their facility?

May physician's offices or pharmacists leave messages for patients at their homes, either on an answering machine or with a family member, to remind them of appointments or to inform them that a prescription is ready? May providers continue to mail appointment or prescription refill reminders to patients' homes?

Must a covered health care provider obtain an individual’s authorization to use or disclose protected health information to an interpreter?

When a covered entity, such as a doctor, uses a certified Telecommunications Relay Service to contact patients with hearing or speech impairments, is the Relay Service a business associate of the doctor?

Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule permit a hospital to inform callers or visitors of a patient’s location and general condition in the emergency room, even if the patient’s information would not normally be included in the main hospital directory of admitted patients?

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