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JP, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
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Experience:  Represented creditors and individuals in bankruptcy and consumer matters.
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What is the correct way to handle a bankruptcy when a doctors

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What is the correct way to handle a bankruptcy when a doctor's office is going out of business and filing for Chapter 7, and some of the patients are viewed as potential creditors of the business? Will listing these patients in the creditor matrix be a violation of HIPAA law? Does HIPAA prevent patients from being listed in the matrix as creditors?

You must disclose and list all of your debts, creditors or potential creditors (including patients), especially if you feel that the patients may attempt to file a lawsuit against the doctor or the doctor's office. Listing the patients as creditors will not be a violation of HIPAA. HIPAA does not prevent patients from being listed in the matrix or the bankruptcy schedules as creditors.


HIPAA protects all health information including paper records, oral communications, and electronic formats (such as e-mail). However, HIPAA also establishes requirements with regard to nonemployee business associates (e.g., lawyers, accountants, billing companies, and other contractors) whose relationship with the doctor's office requires sharing of Protected Health Information (PHI). HIPAA allows a covered provider or health plan to disclose Protected Health Information (PHI) to an attorney or business associate if satisfactory written assurance is obtained that the attorney or business associate will use the information only for the purposes for which it was engaged, will safeguard the information from misuse, and will help the covered entity comply with certain of its duties under HIPAA.


Your bankruptcy schedules will only require that you disclose the name and address of the patient/creditor and the amount that you feel you may owe the patient/creditor, if known. You should not disclose any patient health information on your bankruptcy schedules. If necessary, a doctor's office may disclose protected privacy in the course of a judicial or administrative proceeding under specified circumstances, but you should consult your bankruptcy attorney before attempting to disclose any patient/creditor health information. It will be important for you to re-visit this issue with your bankruptcy attorney before your 341 meeting of creditors, just to make sure that there are no unintended disclosures made on public record at the meeting.


I hope you found this information helpful.


Best Regards.

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