Ebola has recently been the source of much concern, and health care providers and hospitals are taking steps to prepare themselves for the possibility of treating patients with Ebola. In addition to all of the medical preparations underway, covered entities and business associates must also continue to be aware of the protections in place that limit the uses and disclosures of a patient’s protected health information (“PHI”), even in an emergency situation. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”), recently released a bulletin to provide guidance to covered entities and business associates about the ways in which PHI may be shared in an emergency under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. As the OCR emphasizes in its bulletin, the “protections of the Privacy Rule are not set aside during an emergency.”
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