The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule provides an important privacy rights and protections standard for patients with respect to their health information. HIPAA provides a uniform minimum standard, which individual state laws may supersede by mandating additional restrictions.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) both support the importance of this HIPAA rule in helping to protect against the inappropriate release of private health information, as well as to optimize safe care by allowing important clinical information to be shared among the clinicians of the patient’s care team. It is considered a best practice to inform patients and parents about the critical need for care providers to communicate with each other in providing high quality care.
Unfortunately there are misperceptions about the HIPAA Privacy Rule which have developed and persisted over the past decade, which can interfere with appropriate patient care. Collaborative and integrated care systems rely on the appropriate and timely sharing of clinical information among a patient’s treatment providers. If professionals do not appropriately communicate about their shared patients under the belief that HIPAA requires a signed consent for each communication, then patient care may suffer. Therefore AAP and AACAP have created this issue brief to clarify what the HIPAA rule does and does not limit regarding clinical care information exchange among pediatricians, child psychiatrists and other physicians and mental health providers.
The following are answers to commonly asked questions:
Disclaimer: This information is intended to be educational in nature. It is not intended to constitute financial or legal advice. A financial advisor or attorney should be consulted if financial or legal advice is desired. HIPAA has many different requirements and regulations. Practitioners need to be aware that their own state laws can be more restrictive than HIPAA.
Further information about HIPAA can be found at:
General information on understanding HIPAA Privacy Rule
Additional guidance on HIPAA and mental health services
Updated resources to download on HIPAA Privacy and Security Rule compliance for pediatric practices (AAP members only)
American Academy of Pediatrics