The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) recently issued an FAQ document clarifying that the HIPAA Privacy Rule permits disclosures of protected health information to loved ones regardless of whether they are recognized as relatives under applicable law. While this FAQ document has broader implications, it was developed in large part to address confusion following the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016. The FAQ also clearly states that the potential recipients of information are not limited by the sex or gender identity of the person.
To view the FAQ document, please click here.
OCR has also updated its guidance on several provisions within the HIPAA Privacy Rule recognizing the importance of a spouse in a patient’s medical care. This stance clarifies that the terms marriage, spouse, and family member include, respectively, all lawful marriages (whether same or opposite-sex), lawfully married spouses and the dependents of all lawful marriages.
To view OCR’s updated guidance on sharing information with a patient’s loved one, please click here.