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Court Orders and Subpoenas

This is Guidance re: Court Orders vs Subpoenas

Final

Issued by: Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

Issue Date: June 27, 1905

Court Orders and Subpoenas

Court Order

A HIPAA-covered health care provider or health plan may share your protected health information if it has a court order. This includes the order of an administrative tribunal. However, the provider or plan may only disclose the information specifically described in the order. 

Subpoena

A subpoena issued by someone other than a judge, such as a court clerk or an attorney in a case, is different from a court order.

A HIPAA-covered provider or plan may disclose information to a party issuing a subpoena only if the notification requirements of the Privacy Rule are met. Before responding to the subpoena, the provider or plan should receive evidence that there were reasonable efforts to:

  • Notify the person who is the subject of the information about the request, so the person has a chance to object to the disclosure, or
  • Seek a qualified protective order for the information from the court.
  • .

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this database lack the force and effect of law, except as authorized by law (including Medicare Advantage Rate Announcements and Advance Notices) or as specifically incorporated into a contract. The Department may not cite, use, or rely on any guidance that is not posted on the guidance repository, except to establish historical facts.