HHS issued a 120-page guidance document on implementing federal standards for confidential handling of sensitive patient information. Hospitals must comply with the standards by April 2003. It's the second release of guidance since the final privacy rule was published in April 2001 to satisfy a requirement of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. With the compliance deadline four months away, the guidance document is "meant to communicate as clearly as possible the privacy policies contained in the privacy rule," according to HHS' Office of Civil Rights, which will enforce that section of HIPAA regulations. The document follows a question-and-answer format for each of the 11 areas of regulation contained in the privacy rule, such as incidental disclosures, marketing, research and minimum necessary uses of patient information. The document is available online at www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa/privacy.html.
As deadline nears, HHS issues more privacy guidance
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