Confirming appointments

February 20, 2004

Recently, a patient complained that we'd violated his privacy by calling his mother to confirm his scheduled visit, although none of his medical information was released. Was he right?

Q: Recently, a patient complained that we'd violated his privacy by calling his mother to confirm his scheduled visit, although none of his medical information was released. Was he right?

A: No. HIPAA permits such disclosures, providing there's no harm to the individual and you limit the information disclosed. To forestall future misunderstandings, you might ask patients to sign a separate acknowledgment of your confirmation policy at the same time you ask them for their contact information.