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Limited Waiver of HIPAA Sanctions and Penalties

Effective as of March 15, 2020, HHS Secretary Alex Azar has exercised the authority to waive sanctions and penalties against a covered hospital that does not comply with the following provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule:
• the requirements to obtain a patient’s agreement to speak with family members or friends involved in the patient’s care. See 45 CFR 164.510(b).
• the requirement to honor a request to opt out of the facility directory. See 45 CFR 164.510(a).
• the requirement to distribute a notice of privacy practices. See 45 CFR 164.520.
• the patient’s right to request privacy restrictions. See 45 CFR 164.522(a).
• the patient’s right to request confidential communications. See 45 CFR 164.522(b).
 
The waiver only applies:
(1) in the emergency area identified in the public health emergency declaration; 
(2) to hospitals that have instituted a disaster protocol; and 
(3) for up to 72 hours from the time the hospital implements its disaster protocol. 
 
A hospital must comply with all the requirements of the Privacy Rule for any patient still under its care, when the Presidential or Secretarial declaration terminates – even if 72 hours have not elapsed since implementation of its disaster protocol.

Read more here: https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/hipaa-and-covid-19-limited-hipaa-waiver-bulletin-508.pdf

 

 
View the Waiver or Modification of Requirements under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act as the result of the consequences of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus at: https://www.phe.gov/emergency/news/healthactions/section1135/Pages/covid19-13March20.aspx
 

For information about how the HIPAA Privacy Rule applies in an emergency, visit the OCR’S HIPAA Emergency Preparedness, Planning, and Response page<https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/index.html> or you may use the HIPAA Disclosures for Emergency 

Preparedness Decision Tool<https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/decision-tool-overview/index.html>

For more information on COVID-19, please visit:  https://www.coronavirus.go

Tricia Hoffman-Simanek is an Attorney and Senior Vice President at Shuttleworth & Ingersoll, P.L.C. Her legal work focuses on the area of litigation, which includes but is not limited to, professional malpractice, long term care litigation, insurance defense, and other health law litigation. Tricia also provides advice and representation on HIPAA compliance, training, and investigations, professional licensure matters, and risk management.

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