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MRA Thought of the Day- The New HIPAA Rule: Impacting the Release of a Deceased Patient’s Protected Health Information

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Kathy Gordon, RHIA, Vice President of Release of Information

Kathy Gordon, RHIA, Vice President of Release of Information

How does the Omnibus Rule that took effect on March 26, 2013 Impact the Release of a Deceased Patient’s Protected Health Information?

According to the new HIPAA Rule:

Covered entities are now permitted to disclose a decedent’s PHI to family members and others who were involved in the care or payment for care of a decedent prior to death, unless doing so is inconsistent with any known prior preference of the individual.

It is important to note that the HIPAA Rule only applies to states that do not have a more stringent law in place. Massachusetts, for example, still requires executorship papers to accompany the written authorization. According to Massachusetts General Law Chapter 111, section 70:

“The duly appointed executor or administrator of the deceased person’s estate or the attorney for such executor or administrator upon delivery of a written authorization from such executor or administrator, and a copy shall be furnished upon the request and a payment of a reasonable fee”…

The new HIPAA rule certainly simplifies the process for family members and others who were involved in the care or payment for care of the decedent to obtain a copy of the deceased patient’s PHI, particularly when the requester is not the executor of the estate. However, Massachusetts state law still requires proof of executorship in addition to a signed authorization.

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