Can I talk about my patient without saying their name?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires the protection and confidential handling of protected health information. This includes any information in transit, in storage, and at rest whether it’s electronic, written, or oral. Medical professionals are bound to abide by the regulations of the HIPAA and they are constantly surrounded by it. Charts are placed on doors, so the names are hidden, instead of names initials are used when referring to patients in clinical conferences, doors are shut while rounding in the hallways and so on. It is an excellent way of protecting patient identification. Good intentions are the main motivation to follow the rules but to also avoid any penalties because a violation will cost at least $25,000 and a maximum of $50,000 or 1 year of imprisonment depending on the severity of the offense.

Physicians are always reminded not to discuss care even without a patient identifier. Because someone may still identify who the patient is by just hearing the information. Being cautious with the information will protect the patient’s privacy and also protect yourself from violating and offense. 

Healthcare professionals need to be careful about how they comment and converse in public settings. This includes unintentional disclosing information on social media.

Many physicians write on the side as an outlet including novels and health blogs. Usually one draws on one’s work life experience to describe characters in a book or relay an interesting tale. However, even without mentioning names one must keep in mind if a patient can identify themselves in what you write about this may be a violation of HIPAA.

Don’t disclose name, weight, height, eye color, any patient information that allows anyone to discern the identity of the patient. If you have to talk about a situation, try to focus on your own observations. This will make you less likely to reveal information about those around in your blog or book. You can also make up patients that never really existed just to be safe. Anyway writing about health shouldn’t be about people it should be about issues.
There are a lot of rules to be followed in HIPAA some involve text messaging and HIPAA compliance when emailing patients.

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