HIPAA Is Not Everything


A recent NYT article about “Hipaa” (Sorry, Editor, it’s not a term. It’s an acronym: HIPAA!) revealed the almost ubiquitous erroneous assumption that HIPAA and only HIPAA governs all decisions regarding release of medical information. In truth we must adhere to many other considerations, rules and statutes:

  • Consider the ethics of your profession which may restrict even more than HIPAA.
  • Consider getting specific authorization for psychiatric, substance abuse (42CFR Part 2), and STD information release.
  • Know your state rules and statutes.
  • Use professional judgement.
  • Remember that many of the above, including HIPAA, tell you when you must release as well as when you must not.
  • Remember that your patient, if competent, generally has a right to determine who sees what in their medical record, so if a request comes from someone else, always consider contacting the patient to find out whether they want the information released.
  • Don’t trust someone else’s authorization form.


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