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Office for Civil Rights Issues Guidance on How Covered Entities May Disclose PHI About an Individual Infected/Exposed to COVID-19

As published by Bob Coffield on The Health Care Law Blog

3/26/20

On March 24, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S Department of Health and Human Services issued the following guidance document related to the ongoing COVID crisis, COVID-19 and HIPAA: Disclosures to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders and public health authorities.

The OCR guidance indicates that covered entities (hospitals, physicians, long term care facilities, home health agencies, and other providers) may disclose protected health information (PHI) about an individual who has been infected with or exposed to COVID-19 to in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 under the Privacy Rule  (HIPAA). The PHI can be disclosed by the covered entity without first obtaining the individual’s HIPAA authorization.

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