Health care providers
are now forbidden from disclosing information about
a patient to their employer without the patient’s
permission. This change and others are part of the
first federal privacy standards for patients’ medical
records and health information.
The new rules,
effective April 2003, give patients access to their
medical records, together with control over how personal
health information is used and disclosed. In some
cases, patients can restrict the sharing of this information.
The standards were developed by the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services as part of the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996
Although the HIPAA rules impact doctors, hospitals,
and other health care providers, it’ll also affect
businesses, according to reports by Reuters. Health
care providers won’t be able to release medical
information about an employee who’s a patient
to an employer without the patient’s permission
in “non-routine” cases.
Small but noticeable
changes are also part of the effort to keep health
information confidential. One example is that sign-in
sheets in doctors’ offices cannot display patients’ medical
The rules require providers to give patients
notices about how health information is used. Patients
also have the right to copy health records and request
corrections of errors.