A HIPAA message -- return to sender

July 19, 2005

picture disc.HIPAA, the "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996," provides federal protection of patient health information. This HIPAA-related message is part of UNMC's continued effort to educate employees. Today's HIPAA message addresses what to do if you receive a misdirected fax or e-mail.

Question: What should I do if I receive a fax or e-mail that is misaddressed?

Answer: If you receive a fax or e-mail by mistake that is intended for another person, you should immediately return it to the sender so they know the mistake has occurred. Properly dispose of the original document. E-mails should be deleted and faxes should be placed in recycling bins.

Telling the sender that information was misdirected provides the sender with the opportunity to send the information to the right person in a timely manner, which is especially important when the subject matter relates to patient care, business or student academic activities.

In order to prevent any of your communication going to the wrong person, you should verify that the e-mail address or fax phone number is correct prior to sending. Be especially careful with names that can be spelled multiple ways (i.e. Stevens, Stephens, Stephans).

A six-minute Elvis video is available for check-out through the Learning Network. Show it at your next staff meeting.

If you're a manager, please ensure all of your employees are informed of the contents of these messages and how it applies to your work area. Some ways of sharing the information include discussions during staff meetings, printing and posting this message or asking your employees if they have any further questions.