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Talking Confidentiality

Talking Confidentiality

Confidentiality is a huge concern among patients and the medical industry at large. No other industry goes to such lengths to protect the data and privacy of their consumers.

A question of authorization forms comes up frequently. A common situation is when a doctor’s office is asked to fax absentee notes verifying visits or the authorization to administer medications directly to a school or a camp.

In the past, this was permissible, but in recent years with the patient confidentiality laws becoming more strict than ever; the rule of thumb has become that this is not standard office practices any longer. Since the forms would be faxed to a central administrative location where they could be viewed by anyone and someone not connected to the situation could view the form.

The general rule of thumb is that the forms must be picked up in person by the patient or parent and then they can take them to the school or camp. This negates the problem of confidentiality since your office gave the permission forms directly to the patient or their legal guardian.

Faxing a form in the case of a dire emergency is the least preferably way of handling an emergency situation, in the case where a child needed immediate medical attention or the administering of medications.

If you do fax an absentee note to school or a permission slip, make sure it only gives basic identifying information about the child and no diagnosis, pre-existing or otherwise, is disclosed on the form. You need only disclose the information needed to give medication, emergency medical treatment or permission to re-enter school.

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