Must a covered entity provide an accounting for disclosures if the only information disclosed to a public health authority is in the form of a limited data set?
No, a covered entity is not required to provide an accounting for a disclosure where the only information disclosed is in the form of a limited data set, and the covered entity has a data use agreement with the public health authority receiving the information. (See 45 CFR 164.514(e) for limited data set and data use agreement requirements.)
Moreover, a covered entity is not required to provide an accounting when it uses protected health information to create a limited data set. For example, when a covered entity’s workforce member – whether a paid employee or volunteer – reviews medical records to identify reportable cases and extracts facially unidentifiable information to be reported as part of a limited data set to the public health authority, the covered entity is using, rather than disclosing, protected health information. In that case, the covered entity does not have to provide an accounting for its uses of protected health information. Further, even though a disclosure occurs when the limited data set is received by the public health authority for its own public health purposes, the covered entity is not required to account for this disclosure. Limited data sets are excepted from the accounting requirement at 45 CFR 164.528(a)(1)(viii).