June 12, 2020
OCR Issues Guidance on How Health Care Providers Can Contact Former COVID-19 Patients About Blood and Plasma Donation Opportunities
Today, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance on how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy Rule permits covered health care providers to contact their patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to inform them about how they can donate their blood and plasma containing antibodies to help other patients with COVID-19.
The guidance explains that HIPAA permits covered health care providers to identify and contact patients who have recovered from COVID-19 for population-based activities relating to improving health, case management, or care coordination. The guidance emphasizes that, without patients' authorization, the providers cannot receive any payment from or on behalf of a blood and plasma donation center in exchange for such communications with recovered patients.
"We're making sure misconceptions about HIPAA do not get in the way of a promising COVID-19 response. This guidance explains how health care providers can connect COVID-19 survivors with blood and plasma donation opportunities and further public health consistent with patient privacy," said Roger Severino, OCR Director.
For more information related to HIPAA and COVID-19, please visit: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/hipaa-covid19/index.html.
* People using assistive technology may not be able to fully access information in this file. For assistance, contact the HHS Office for Civil Rights at (800) 368-1019, TDD toll-free: (800) 537-7697, or by emailing OCRMail@hhs.gov.