"Minimum necessary"

January 9, 2004

Answers to your questions about...the "minimum necessary" rule

Q: I've heard about the "minimum necessary" rule. What does it require?

A: The standard states that, if you release any patient information, you must release only the minimum amount necessary to achieve your purpose. For example, let's say you recently saw a patient and your billing company is preparing to bill for that visit. You'd release to the billing company only the information needed for coding the bill correctly-typically the diagnosis and accompanying note. As a rule, you wouldn't release notes for previous visits. Most practices, of course, are already following this procedure, so you're probably already familiar with the "minimum necessary" concept and are routinely observing it.