Some of the regulations bring encouraging news

There is some good news in the final regulations on privacy of medical records, experts report. For example, providers may disclose the entire patient record when making disclosures to other providers for treating the patient. "There is no requirement that this type of disclosure be limited to only the minimum necessary information," according to McDermott, Will & Emery.1 "Providers vigorously sought this change."

However, for most disclosures, such as information submitted with bills, providers are required to send only the minimum information needed for the purpose of the disclosure. Also in the final rules, providers don’t have to obtain special consent to use patient information for cost studies and for marketing, and fundraising in limited circumstances. The final rules also eliminated the proposed requirement for employee certification of training and compliance.

"This is a significant change from the proposed rules, which would have required initial certification of employees and recertification every three years," according to McDermott, Will & Emery.


1. McDermott, Will & Emery. Health Law Update Dec. 27, 2000; 17(10).