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TexLaw
TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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I am hoping you can provide answers to these questions, including

This answer was rated:

I am hoping you can provide answers to these questions, including specific quotes or links to the specific regulation in question.

In a small, private mental health counseling practice in NYS, is it legal to:

Share potential or existing client information, including name, dob, address, phone number, insurance carrier and ID number via unencrypted text on personal cellphones?

Share client treatment information via unencrypted text or e-mail?

Keep client files, including treatment notes and insurance information, in an unlocked cabinet in an unlocked closet in an unattended hallway between waiting room and practitioner offices, during business hours?

Also - if a licensed practitioner works for a practice where these are the policies by which business is conducted, could he/she be held personally liable?
Hi,

Thank you for your questions.

When you say "share client information" over a phone, email or text, who is the information being shared with?

Thanks,
ZDN
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The information is being shared with others within the practice - either the billing/insurance person, or other practitioners.

Thank you for your response. In short, the statute your are referring to is HIPPA. That statute and information regarding it may be found at: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/index.html

My response to your specific questions are below.

"Share potential or existing client information, including name, dob, address, phone number, insurance carrier and ID number via unencrypted text on personal cellphones?" If being shared with others within the practice in connection with the rendering of health services, then no.


"Share client treatment information via unencrypted text or e-mail?"
If being shared with others within the practice in connection with the rendering of health services, then no.

"Keep client files, including treatment notes and insurance information, in an unlocked cabinet in an unlocked closet in an unattended hallway between waiting room and practitioner offices, during business hours?"

As the location of the files are behind a closed door and is not in a public area (such as located in the waiting room itself), then this does not violate any standards.

Also - if a licensed practitioner works for a practice where these are the policies by which business is conducted, could he/she be held personally liable?

No, unless the licensed practitioner actively discloses the private health information to a third party (not counting insurance or other doctors) without consent of the patient.
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