question of HIPAA in home health

teresaclontz

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I have a question regarding HIPAA in home health. Is it a violation of HIPAA to look at a patient's EHR to verify what labs are being run when you receive the lab results from the lab? The reason I ask is that I want to send all the labs together to the ordering MD instead of individually as they come off the fax machine. My immediate supervisor seems to think that it is a violation of HIPAA, but I am not so sure that it is. The information is not leaving the office, it is just helping me to make sure that all the labs are sent.
Thanks so much for your help,
 
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I have a question regarding HIPAA in home health. Is it a violation of HIPAA to look at a patient's EHR to verify what labs are being run when you receive the lab results from the lab? The reason I ask is that I want to send all the labs together to the ordering MD instead of individually as they come off the fax machine. My immediate supervisor seems to think that it is a violation of HIPAA, but I am not so sure that it is. The information is not leaving the office, it is just helping me to make sure that all the labs are sent.
Thanks so much for your help,

You are allowed to access a patient's EHR if you have a legitimate need to do so AND you are only permitted to access the specific information required. Accessing the record to check the status on labs so that the results can just be sent all at one time serves no purpose other than to lessen the amount of work you have to do. Your supervisor is correct that this is a HIPAA violation.
 

thomas7331

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Well, yes and no - 'lessening the amount of work' could be a legitimate reason to access the record if the organizations determines that it is. But it's in your best interest to follow the guidelines or processes your organization sets up for your work. As covered entities, healthcare organizations are able to set up their internal policies for access to PHI. If your supervisor is telling you the circumstances in which you should access the records and you are stepping outside of those guidelines, you're potentially putting yourself at risk. But as this is a legal matter, I'd recommend any questions about your particular situation be handled within your organization's compliance protocol - a discussion forum is not a reliable source of legal advice!
 
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