An extension to this -- how do you handle answering machines?

My gut feeling is that either a no-no (the machine more questionable than a family 
member) -- the information could only be released to the patient or his/her 
representative designated in a written authorizaton.  Perhaps another signature on 
your main consent/authorization form to allow these types of communications is what's 

The opinions expressed here are my own and not necessarily the opinion of LCMH.

Douglas M. Webb
Computer System Engineer
Little Company of Mary Hospital & Health Care Centers

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----- Original Message ----- 
To: "WEDI SNIP Privacy Workgroup List" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2003 04:04 PM
Subject: HIPAA privacy and telephone

> I would like the lists opinion on this topic.
> Patient comes to the office to have their potassium checked because they are on a 
>diuretic.  Later, the physician's nurse calls the patient at home with results but 
>the patient is not home.  Spouse answers the phone.  Can you tell the spouse that the 
>potassium was fine and that he/she should tell the spouse to continue the same dose 
>of diuretic and potassium supplement?  If you say "no, this type of disclosure is not 
>allowed", would it matter that we put a statment in our Notice of Privacy Practices 
>that stated  (in the section on Payment, treatment and  health care operations) "On 
>occasion, we call test results to your home and leave the results with a family 
>member if you are not present".  Now, obviously, we would not do this with a HIV 
>result but it seems like such a waste of everyone's time to play phone tag to 
>accommodate the one patient in a million that is actually upset because you told the 
>spouse what the potassium result was.  Thank you.
> Rich Fairley, 
> Dubuque, IA

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