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March 26, 2020

OCR Releases Guidance on COVID-19-Related Disclosures of PHI

HHS OCR released guidance this week on disclosures related to protected health information (PHI) of patients that have been infected with COVID-19. The guidance explains instances where covered entities may make disclosures of PHI to law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders, and public health authorities without patient consent. Such scenarios include: (1) when the disclosure is needed to provide treatment; (2) when such notification is required by law; (3) to notify a public health authority in order to prevent or control spread of disease; (4) when first responders may be at risk of infection; (5) when the disclosure of PHI to first responders is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public; and (6) when responding to a request for PHI by a correctional institution or law enforcement official having lawful custody of an inmate or other individual. OCR has also released guidance related to telehealth remote communications.