Does the HIPAA Privacy Rule permit a hospital to inform callers or visitors of a patient’s location and general condition in the emergency room, even if the patient’s information would not normally be included in the main hospital directory of admitted patients?
Yes. The Privacy Rule permits covered entities to maintain more than one type of patient directory, and to maintain multiple versions of them, provided that the other requirements at 45 CFR 164.510(a) also are followed. For instance, emergency rooms that maintain directory information, even though separate from, or in a form different than, the hospital directory of admitted patients, may still disclose the information consistent with the requirements of the Privacy Rule. For further information about how this section of the Rule applies, see our other FAQs on this topic by searching on the term "directory."