ADVICE, P.R.N.: Until death do us part

June 2005 
Volume 35  Number 6
Pages 15 - 15
  PDF Version Available!

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 35(6)             June 2005             p 15 Until death do us part [ADVICE, P.R.N.: PATIENT PRIVACY]

My colleagues and I have been debating whether a patient's right to privacy under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) continues after his death. For example, if a visitor came to see a patient who'd just died unexpectedly, could a nurse inform the visitor of the death? I say yes because a patient's death is a matter of public record. But my colleagues argue that if HIPAA regulations prevent us from revealing that a living person is hospitalized, surely revealing his death is forbidden too. Who's right? —L.B., GA.

You are, according to guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Under the HIPAA privacy rule, hospitals can use a facility directory to inform visitors about ...

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