Just the fax, ma'am -- a weekly HIPAA message

February 11, 2003

picture disc.HIPAA, the "Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996," provides federal protection of patient health information. You will be receiving weekly messages to help you understand the topic and how it impacts your job. Today's HIPAA message addresses what to do when faxing protected health information.

Questions:
1. Can I fax protected health information (PHI) under HIPAA?

2. What should I do if I fax PHI to the wrong location?

Answers:
1. Yes, as long as appropriate safeguards are used, including the following:

  • Accompany each fax with a coversheet that contains the confidentiality statement.
  • Be sure that you verify the fax number.
  • Don't leave confidential information unattended on the fax machine.

2. If the information has been misdirected, immediately contact the receiver by telephone if you know the number and request that they destroy the documents.

picture disc. 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.