Death and taxes -- a weekly HIPAA message

April 15, 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 explores whether family members can obtain protected health information of deceased individual.

Question:
Can family members obtain PHI (protected health information) of a deceased individual?

Answer:
Yes, in one of two ways:
1. Health-care providers may disclose deceased individual's PHI for treatment purposes of the individual requesting the PHI without an authorization (e.g. family history of an illness).
2. A personal representative of a deceased individual, such as an executor or administrator of the estate, may obtain or authorize disclosure of the PHI.

P.S. The federal HIPAA compliance date was Monday, April 14, 2003.

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.