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Elevators and HIPAA rules clarified

30 Oct 2016

By: Ellen Hampton, director of Corporate Integrity/Privacy Officer

View as a webpage   Can medical and hospital staff ride in elevators with patients even if they aren’t involved in the patient’s immediate care? That question was posed for Common Ground to clarify.

The short answer is yes — but there’s more to consider. Ask yourself what you would prefer, if you were the patient. Patients may be more concerned about their own personal privacy and sense of dignity than the privacy of their health information in an elevator. This situation is not covered by a specific HIPAA privacy rule, other than we are required to implement reasonable safeguards to protect privacy. This means that hospitals must provide reasonable safeguards — for instance, avoiding using patient names in public hallways and elevators.

So, use your best judgment and be aware that having the fewest number of people in the elevator with a patient being transported may reduce their anxiety — which means making that decision when your elevator door opens, and, unless the elevator seems crowded, simply asking, “Do you mind if I ride with you?”

If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me at 503-561-2494 in the Corporate Integrity Department.