When Are Patient Authorizations Required for Disclosure?

Posted by Thomas Davon on

Information Sharing Needed for Treatment  

As a health care provider you may sometimes refer a patient to another health care provider for treatment. In this case the new health care provider would need your current information on the patient to guide him or her in his or her treatment processes. When information is needed to be shared in a case like this, you may need to disclose to the patient but do not necessarily need the patient’s permission to do so. When Protected Health Information (PHI) is shared in this manner without the patient’s permission, it is not considered an infringement by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy rule.


Disclosures to Family, Friends, and Others Involved in the Care of the Individual as well as for Notification Purposes

When there is need to disclose a Protected Health Information (PHI) to family and friends involved in the individual’s care or just to notify them, or to disclose to other persons whom the individual identifies, it becomes necessary and lawful that you obtain some form informal permission by asking the individual outright. You can also get the permission by determining that the individual did not object in circumstances that clearly gave the individual the opportunity to agree, acquiesce, or object.


Information Needed to Ensure Public Health and Safety

When there is need to send immunization records to schools. You may disclose immunization records of a student or prospective student to a school without any form of written permission. All you need in this case is the student parents’ or care giver’s permission. This is applicable if the student is a minor but if the student is an adult, then you may get his or her permission.

Your practice must have a documentation of any oral agreement made for record purposes and for your own interest. You can only share such information with schools where state law mandates the school to have such information before admitting the student.

In this case the PHI shared must be limited to proof of immunization and nothing more than what the law permits.


You can also share PHI with a public health authority that is saddled by law with the responsibility of collecting or receiving such information for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury, or disability.


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