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First responders can share COVID-19 patient information, HHS says

Mar 31, 2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says law enforcement, paramedics, other first responders and public health authorities can share information on individuals who have been infected with or exposed to COVID-19.

HIPAA privacy rule permits sharing protected health information without the individual’s HIPAA authorization, HHS says, in certain circumstances, including:

  • When the disclosure is needed to provide treatment
  • When such notification is required by law
  • To notify a public health authority in order to prevent or control spread of disease
  • When first responders may be at risk of infection
  • When the disclosure of information to first responders is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public
  • When the disclosure of information to first responders is necessary to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health and safety of a person or the public

For complete information on exceptions, see HHS’s guidelines. 

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Author(s)

Rick Ensenbach
Rick Ensenbach, CISSP, CISA, CISM, ISSMP, CCSFP
Director, Risk Advisory Services
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