Privacy concerns when defending a claim

July 4, 2008

A former associate has filed a claim against me for pay she believes I owe her. In my defense, may I release patient records, including names and financial data, or will that violate HIPAA?

A former associate has filed a claim against me for pay she believes I owe her. In my defense, may I release patient records, including names and financial data, or will that violate HIPAA?

HIPAA allows use and disclosure of patients' information for "treatment, payment, and healthcare operations," which would include defending yourself against a claim. Still, you must be very careful to release only the minimum amount of information needed and to remove all identifying details, including patients' names, to protect their privacy. Instead of names you could use patients' initials or assign numbers to their records to identify them.

Send your practice management questions to: PMQA Editor, Medical Economics, 123 Tice Blvd., Suite 300,Woodcliff Lake, NJ 07677-7664, or send an e-mail to mepractice@advanstar.com (please include your regular postal address).

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