Hospital Revises Email Distribution as a Result of a Disclosure to Persons Without a “Need to Know”

Covered Entity: General Hospital

Issue: Impermissible Use and Disclosure

A complainant, who was both a patient and an employee of the hospital, alleged that her protected health information (PHI) was impermissibly disclosed to her supervisor. OCR’s investigation revealed that: the hospital distributed an Operating Room (OR) schedule to employees via email; the hospital’s OR schedule contained information about the complainant’s upcoming surgery. While the Privacy Rule may permit the disclosure of an OR schedule containing PHI, in this case, a hospital employee shared the OR scheduled with the complainant’s supervisor, who was not part of the employee’s treatment team, and did not need the information for payment, health care operations, or other permissible purposes. The hospital disciplined and retrained the employee who made the impermissible disclosure. Additionally, in order to prevent similar incidents, the hospital undertook a complete review of the distribution of the OR schedule. As a result of this review, the hospital revised the distribution of the OR schedule, limiting it to those who have “a need to know.”

via All Case Examples.