A message on HIPAA -- paper chase

August 24, 2004

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 deals with papers containing patient information.

Question: Why is it important to put away papers containing patient information (PHI -- protected health information)?

Answer: If the patient information is not properly secured, individuals who do not have a need to know the PHI to perform their job may access the patient information. Patients are less apt to share private or sensitive information necessary for their care if they do not have confidence that their medical records are appropriately safeguarded.

If you have patient information in your possession, be sure that you dispose of it properly if it is not stored in the patient record or other official files. Proper disposal would include placing the paper in the recycle bins or shredding it. For example, be sure that paper is not left unattended in conference rooms, patient rooms, research areas, copy machines, fax machines, or even in your pocket when you go home!

For further information see: Destruction of Private and Confidential Information Procedures.

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.