Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
BULLETIN: HIPAA Privacy and Novel Coronavirus
In light of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is providing this bulletin to ensure that HIPAA covered entities and their business associates are aware of the ways that patient information may be shared under the HIPAA Privacy Rule in an outbreak of infectious disease or other emergency situation, and to serve as a reminder that the protections of the Privacy Rule are not set aside during an emergency.
The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of patients’ health information (protected health information) but is balanced to ensure that appropriate uses and disclosures of the information still may be made when necessary to treat a patient, to protect the nation’s public health, and for other critical purposes.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has advised: if you were in China within the past 14 days and feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, you should get medical care. Call
the office of your health care provider before you go and tell them about your travel and your symptoms. They will give you instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to your illness. While sick, avoid contact with people, don’t go out and delay any travel to reduce the possibility of spreading illness to others. More information from the CDC available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf
Find the full bulletin here: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/february-2020-hipaa-and-novel-coronavirus.pdf
If you have questions about this article, please give Partner Attorney, Denise Destache a call at 402-397-7300.