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Healthcare Reminder September 23 is the Deadline for Updating the HIPAA Privacy Notice

The federal government requires that by September 23 medical practices need to have added the new patient rights privacy notices to the hand outs that they give all of their patients or they will not be in compliance with government regulation.

The appropriate name of the notice that is made available to all patients is the Notice of Privacy Practices (NPP). This notice was created by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and explains how physicians may disclose and use the "protected health information (PHI)" of patients without their authorization, and explains what information and uses require prior approval. January 2013, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published new HIPAA privacy regulations. The new regulations took effect March 26 but the HHS gave physicians and other entities governed by HIPAA until September 23 to comply.

The Notice of Privacy Practices must inform patients about the new guidelines they have under HIPAA. One of the new regulations is that patients can now order their healthcare provider not to tell their health insurer about services they elect to pay for out of pocket. Some of such private payments could be for psychiatric treatment. There are many people that do not want their mental health issues disclosed to their insurance company due to a stigma that is frequently placed on psychiatric disorders in the workplace and elsewhere. Another revision is that NPPs also must state that patients can opt out of receiving information about any fundraising conducted by a healthcare provider. No health care provider can sell a patient's PHI without his or her explicit authorization, and if a patient's PHI accidentally goes public, the provider must immediately notify the patient of the breach.

Medical practices need to post the updated NPP in their office in plain view, post on their website (if they have one), and to make a hard copy available to anyone who asks for it. Although NPPs are many times viewed as an added nuisance paperwork they would just as soon abandon on a waiting room table, but in the age of identity theft, requests for these documents are often made.

The obligation is to make sure that medical practices give the updated NPP to new patients, but they are not required to give the new document to established patients.

State and national medical societies have tried to ease the burden of the new regulations and have made it possible for practice to download the updated materials from their web sites so they do not need to rewrite current documents.

The recent additional changes to HIPAA expand a patient's right to obtain a digital copy of the NPP form as opposed to a hard one, a copy of his or her electronic health record, and extend many privacy and security requirements to billing companies, medical consulting firms, and other companies privy to patient information in the course of dealing with physicians.

For more information about the new HIPAA regulations visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website regarding the Omnibus HIPAA Rulemaking and the American Medical Association website regarding privacy standards.



Pedagogy Blog by Catheryn Peplinski, MBA, RT (R) (M), RDMS, is our Director of Operations and author of Pedagogy online continuing education courses.

Catheryn Peplinski, MBA, RT (R) (M), RDMS, is Director of Operations at Pedagogy Inc. in Troup, Texas. She has earned her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from University of Phoenix, and has a degree in Radiology from Ferris State University. Catheryn is licensed in multiple modalities of Radiology, specializing in High-Risk Obstetrics and genetic testing with over 28 years of experience in diagnostic medicine, education, and management.

Her background includes management and development of clinical practices, education, health care provider in multiple diagnostic procedures, laboratory procedures, surgical assisting, protocol development, accreditation processes, operations, author, and editing/publishing with Pedagogy Inc. She has taught medical students the skills of ultrasound, as well as to nursing staff and radiology and ultrasound students. Catheryn has successfully produced educational material for continuing education and student development. Catheryn has a deep passion to help others with strong beliefs in service oriented philosophies to give to those less fortunate.

She has been blessed with the opportunity to participate in a medical mission trip to Guatemala with her children to gain the appreciation of field medicine and sharing of their talents. She has written multiple news articles and blogs for Pedagogy as well as an infusion based class for Radiology Nursing Professionals.


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Posted: 8/28/2013 5:00:00 AM
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