Picking up prescriptions

July 11, 2003

In the past, we've allowed spouses and significant others to pick up reports, X-rays, and prescriptions for a patient. Is this practice still allowed under HIPAA?

Q:In the past, we've allowed spouses and significant others to pick up reports, X-rays, and prescriptions for a patient. Is this practice still allowed under HIPAA?

A: It is. Staff members may make reasonable inferences—based on their experience—when it's in patients' best interests to have someone else act on their behalf. But, when in doubt, reasonable steps should be taken to verify this person's identity. For example, call the patient first to confirm that the individual has the authority to act on his behalf. Then, once the person arrives at the office, check his identification.