On Monday, April 14, 2003, new privacy rules went into effect across the country, covering health insurance companies, hospitals, clinics, doctors and pharmacies. The rules prohibit disclosure, without patient permission, of information for reasons unrelated to health care.
As a result of these new rules, patients have more power to keep their medical information secret, to copy their records, and to find out who has seen them. Also, hospitals will be able to share less information with friends, ministers and family members not directly involved in caring for patients.
The rules are a result of a law called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). With the growing need for health information to be stored electronically, there was concern that medical information could be misdirected, and the information no longer kept private.
Because Barnes-Jewish Hospital values a patient's right to privacy, the hospital will continue to follow the federal guidelines. One of the most noticeable changes will be the use of the hospital directory. Each patient at Barnes-Jewish Hospital will be given an option of whether to be included in the hospital directory. No information – even that the patient is in the hospital – will be released – even to family and friends - if the patient objects. For patients who agree to be listed in the directory, Barnes-Jewish Hospital only will release limited information without specific authorization.
In addition to receiving written notice of the law, there will be plenty of verbal discussion with patients to ensure they understand their rights.
Read the HIPAA notice for Barnes-Jewish Hospital.