Federal office addresses HIPAA privacy question

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) posts answers to frequently asked questions related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy rule on its web site: www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa. One addition to the frequently asked questions section is a question about sharing protected health information (PHI) with an interpreter. According to OCR, patient authorization is not needed to disclose PHI to an interpreter when:

  • The interpreter is part of the provider work force.
  • The covered entity engages the services of the interpreter as a business associate.
  • The interpreter is a family member, close friend, or other person designated by the patient as the interpreter for a particular health care encounter.