MRA Thought of the Day – Policies for Disclosing Ambulance Reports and the PHI to Medical Examiners

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Ann Dooley, RHIA

Ann Dooley, RHIA

An urgent fax is received from the Office of the Medical Examiner without an authorization or consent for release. The patient was transported to the hospital via a private ambulance and died in the emergency department. The Medical Examiner is requesting the emergency room visit, as well as the ambulance report. Can the PHI and the ambulance report be released without proper authorization?

Here are my thoughts…

  • The patient’s PHI can be released to coroners and medical examiners. According to HIPAA: A covered entity may disclose protected health information to a coroner or medical examiner for the purpose of identifying a deceased person, determining a cause of death, or other duties as authorized by law. A covered entity, order viagra no prescription that also performs the duties of a coroner or medical examiner, may use protected health information for the purposes described in this paragraph.
  • If the hospital or facility includes ambulance reports as a part of their Designated Record Set, they can be released by the facility. Often the facility will state, all outside records used for the treatment of the patient are to be considered part of the patient’s record, therefore it can be released.
  • Each facility is required to define their record set, this will determine if outside records can be released or not.
  • If there are any concerns regarding the request, or the use of the information, a phone call to the Office of the Medical Examiner can be made to clarify questions.
  • Always exercise caution when releasing any PHI. We strive to provide the best customer service possible, keeping the patients best interest in mind, confidentiality is always our top priority.

What are your thoughts?

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