The HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a new FAQ clarifying that the HIPAA Privacy Rule permits disclosures to loved ones regardless of whether they are recognized as relatives under applicable law. The FAQ, while applicable in a variety of circumstances, was developed in large part to address confusion following the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting about whether and when hospitals may share protected health information with patients’ loved ones. In particular, the FAQ makes clear that the potential recipients of information under the relevant permissive disclosure provisions of the law are not limited by the sex or gender identity of the person.
In tandem, OCR is updating its existing Guidance on several provisions within the HIPAA Privacy Rule that recognize the integral role that a spouse often plays in a patient’s health and health care. Consistent with a recent Supreme Court decision, OCR is issuing updated guidance that makes clear that the terms marriage, spouse, and family member include, respectively, all lawful marriages (whether same-sex or opposite-sex), lawfully married spouses and the dependents of all lawful marriages, and clarifies certain rights of individuals under the Privacy Rule.
The Kidney Patient Advisory Council (KPAC) and the Forum of ESRD Networks Medical Advisory Council (MAC) have announced the release of the Dialysis Patient Grievance Toolkit. This toolkit was written BY PATIENTS and FOR PATIENTS and is intended to help guide dialysis patients through the grievance process. KPAC acknowledges the help and support of the entire ESRD Network system in creating the Toolkit. Find it and the other MAC Toolkits at http://esrdnetworks.org/mac-toolkits-1 .
We’ve placed the September 2016 issue of Network Consumer News, the Northwest Renal Network patient newsletter, on the Network 16 website at https://nwrn.org/patients-a-family/ptedres/ncn.html . This issue covers access to care, involuntary discharge, and Network 16’s grievance process. This month we’ve included a Spanish edition, a large-print version, a feedback form, and a flyer about the September 23-25, 2016 AAKP National Patient Meeting in Nashville.