[ Wednesday, October 09, 2002 ]


HHS has issued a new set of Frequently Asked Questions about HIPAA. Some are pretty pedestrian, but reading them should give you a good idea about what's happening and what types of questions the government is getting.

Some of the questions should make you wonder about how big the "black helicopter crowd" is out there. Clearly, there are some terrified folks.

Some of the questions are issues that have been discussed in seminars where I've spoken. It's good to know I was right.

One of the questions relates to a difference Patricia Johnston, the Director of Health Information Privacy and Security for Texas Health Resources, and I have had at several presentations we've given together. I've always contended that a covered entity should treat janitorial services as business associates: they perform a service on behalf of the covered entity and the covered entity delivers PHI to them. OK, I recognize that the "delivery" of the PHI is in the form of handing them the parts of records that have been thrown in the trash, but it's still "delivery" in the strictest sense of the word. Pat, of course, thought I was being awfully technical and picky (what do you expect from a lawyer?), and felt that any disclosure to a janitor would just be an "incidental" disclosure. As the FAQs indicate, HHS sides with Pat. So, if you've been trying to get your janitor to sign a Business Associate Agreement, you don't need to worry any more.

Jeff [5:24 PM]

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