As far as I am concerned HIPAA has added another layer of useless paperwork on to the backs of physicians, and I particularly resent the cost it has added to primary care. Therefore, I was excited to see an article on HIPAA myths. Below is my summary of HIPAA myth bustin’:
Myth 1: You can’t have a sign in sheet. Yes, you can. You must limit the amount of patient information on the list. E.g. don’t have the chief complaint.
Myth 2: You may not say a patient’s name out loud in front of other people. Again, say the name, but use the minimal amount of information, rather than, “Mrs. Dysmenorrhea, Dr. Strangelove is ready for your pap test.”
Myth 3: Patients may sue you for non-compliance. No, but HHS (Health and Human Services) recently fined a home care company for a major security breach. Moral: be especially careful with laptops, pdas etc.
Myth 4: Patients are entitled to a free copy of their medical records. They are certainly entitled to the records, but not for free. The cost to the patient may include the cost of labor to copy the records, as well as the cost of supplies and postage.
Myth 5: You may not use a fax to send protected patient information. Not true, grass hopper! Faxes must be sent to known locations, from secure machines, with the number pre-programmed to reduce dialing errors. The cover sheet must contain a request to destroy the information should it go to an incorrect destination.
So, be safe out there. And yes, we can finally say our patients’ names again.