Emergency Situations: Preparedness, Planning, and Response

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| Categories: Privacy and Security, HIPAA
Emergency Situations: Preparedness, Planning, and Response

Guidance from the Office for Civil Rights

From the OCR: The Privacy Rule protects individually identifiable health information from unauthorized or impermissible uses and disclosures. The Rule is carefully designed to protect the privacy of health information, while allowing important health care communications to occur. These pages address the release of protected health information for planning or response activities in emergency situations.  In addition, please view the Civil Rights Emergency Preparedness page to learn how nondiscrimination laws apply during an emergency.

Outlined in the OCR article are detailed actions for:

  • Planning - Access an interactive decision tool designed to assist emergency preparedness and recovery planners in determining how to gain access to and use health information about persons with disabilities or others consistent with the Privacy Rule.
  • Response - In this section, access guidance about sharing patient information under the Privacy Rule in emergency situations, such as to assist patients in receiving the care they need, as well as to assist in disaster relief, public health, and law enforcement efforts.
  • Waivers - If the President declares an emergency or disaster and the Secretary of HHS declares a public health emergency, the Secretary may waive sanctions and penalties against a covered hospital that does not comply with certain provisions of the Privacy Rule.  The Privacy Rule remains in effect.  The waivers are limited and apply only for limited periods of time.


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