Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
A Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Covered Entity is permitted to disclose protected health information (PHI) without individual authorization to a “public health authority” that is authorized by law to collect or receive such information for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury or disability, such as for purposes of reporting disease, injury, or vital events, or for public health surveillance, investigations, or interventions; or, at the direction of a public health authority, to an official of a foreign government agency that is acting in collaboration with a public health authority. (45 CFR 164.512(b)(1)(i)).
The HIPAA Privacy Rule imposes certain requirements and conditions on these disclosures, such as that the covered entity must make reasonable efforts to limit the PHI disclosed to the minimum necessary to accomplish the intended purpose of the disclosure. The following checklist is intended to help public health authorities be prepared to provide a covered entity with the information and representations necessary for the covered entity to ensure that a disclosure meets the specific requirements and conditions outlined in the Privacy Rule.
The requestor of the PHI should be able to demonstrate or represent that:
In most cases, the requestor should be prepared to provide a written statement of its legal authority. However, in circumstances where it would be impracticable to provide a written statement, a covered entity may rely, if reasonable, on an oral statement of authority.
In addition, the requestor should be prepared to verify its identity by:
For additional guidance, see HIPAA Privacy Rule and public health disclosures.
View PDF version of the HIPAA Public Health Authority Disclosure Request Checklist.
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