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HIPAA applies even in emergencies

December 08, 2014 Even during emergencies like an Ebola outbreak, the federal government wants health care practitioners to be mindful of patient privacy laws.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights issued information on how health care providers covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and their business associates, are permitted to share information under the HIPAA Privacy Rule in an emergency situation. The government also wants to remind health care workers, including dentists and dental team members, that the protections under the privacy rule can not be set aside during an emergency.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of patients' health information but is balanced to ensure that appropriate uses and disclosures of the information can still be made when necessary to treat a patient, to protect the nation's public health and for other critical purposes.
To read OCR's bulletin, visit online.