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Section 18: Confidentiality

Patient confidentiality is mandated and enforced through federal legislation. Western EMS members should familiarize themselves with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996. Members should also consult the McDonough District Hospital EMS System Manual for the hospital's privacy policy. Any member who knowingly or intentionally violates patient confidentiality will be subject to severe disciplinary action, as well as being subject to both criminal and civil retribution.

Examples of Violations:

  • Reading confidential reports without a "need to know"
  • Revealing a patients name or condition to any one other than receiving personnel
  • Talking about a patient in front of others that don’t have a "need to know"
  • Allowing written information to be seen by any person who is not authorized to receive that type of information
  • Talking to the press about any situation
  • Speaking to a patient’s family without permission of the patient if they are of adult age (18 or older)

Officials with a need to know:

  • Police
  • Beu Health Center (BHC)
  • Patient’s parents or guardian if under 18
  • Ambulance personnel

Types of information that can be elicited:

  • Patient’s name
  • Patient’s date of birth
  • Patient’s address
  • Location of response
  • Location of transport
  • Crew’s names and Ranks
  • Western EMS Advisor’s name and office phone number

The preceding information can be given if they are directly involved at the scene and/or have a "need to know."

At no time should any diagnosis, prognosis, or opinions be given to anyone.