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Does the public health provision of the HIPAA Privacy Rule require covered entities to make public health disclosures?


No. The Privacy Rule’s public health provision permits, but does not require, covered entities to make such disclosures. This provision is intended to allow covered entities to continue current voluntary reporting practices that are critically important to public health and safety. The Rule also permits covered entities to disclose protected health information when State or other law requires covered entities to make disclosures for public health purposes.

For instance, many State laws require health care providers to report certain diseases, cases of child abuse, births, or deaths, and the Privacy Rule permits covered entities to disclose protected health information, without authorization, to make such reports. See the fact sheet about the public health provision for more information.

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