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Are health care providers required to seek a prior authorization before discussing a product or service with a patient, or giving a product or service to a patient, in a face-to-face encounter?


No. In face-to-face encounters, the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows covered entities to give or discuss products or services, even when not health-related, to patients without a prior authorization. This exception prevents unnecessary intrusion into the doctor-patient relationship.

Physicians may give out free pharmaceutical samples, regardless of their value. Similarly, hospitals may give infant supplies to new mothers. Moreover, the face-to-face exception would allow providers to leave general circulation materials in their offices for patients to pick up during office visits.

Date Created: 12/20/2002
Last Updated: 03/14/2006