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Common Privacy Myths

With the new federal laws protecting the privacy of your health information, there has been much confusion and misinformation. Here are the truths to some of the common myths:
  • Health information cannot be faxed – FALSE
    Your information may be shared between healthcare providers by faxing the information. But, the organizations that send and receive your information by fax must have security policies regarding faxing.
  • E-mail cannot be used to transmit health information – FALSE
    E-mail can be used to transmit information, as long as organizations have a means of protecting the electronic health information, such as encryption and decryption, which protect the information from unwanted access or tampering.
  • Healthcare providers cannot leave messages for patients on answering machines or with someone who answers the telephone – FALSE
    As long as the patient has given the okay for someone else to receive a message, and as long as the answering machine has an outgoing message that gives the person’s name or number for verification, a message may be left. Your provider will determine what the message may include, but a message CAN be left.
  • Your name and location while in the hospital may not be given out without your consent – FALSE
    You must specifically ask not to be listed in a hospital’s directory if you do not want it known that you are a patient there.
  • Your healthcare provider must have your approval to disclose your personal health information to another healthcare provider – FALSE
    Your provider can share your health information with another provider if there is a reason to believe you will receive care there.
  • Your doctor cannot discuss your care with your family members – FALSE
    The Privacy Rule permits healthcare provides to share information that is directly relevant to the involvement of a spouse, family members, friends, or other persons identified by you regarding your care or payment for healthcare. Your provider may also share relevant information with your family or other persons if he or she can reasonably infer, based on professional judgment, that you do not object.