I work for an answering service that handles after hour calls for doctors’ offices. My question is, does it violate HIPPA for a nurse who calls in to give me the patient’s name to give to the on call doctor?
HIPAA protects health related information of patients, including their names. However, HIPAA allows for providers to share information without the consent of a patient to other providers for treatment or billing purposes. Under this exception, the nurse would be able to share the patient’s name directly with the doctor. Because you are an employee of the service hired by the doctor, you would probably be seen as the doctor’s agent (just like a receptionist in his office), and the nurse sharing the patient’s name with you for the purposes of treating the patient is probably appropriate. Of course, you and the answering service are bound by HIPAA as well, and will not be able to share the patient’s name with anyone except for purposes of treatment or billing. Many states also have health privacy laws which may be more stringent than the federal law. If you are concerned that your company’s policies may be violating state or federal law, you can consult a health care attorney for clarification.