Whiteboards and HIPAA

From HcPro’s newsletter Briefings on HIPAA:

Q: Is writing patient's full names on whiteboards permissible? Using only initials and/or first names to identify patients is very confusing for nursing staff members and physicians. Using full names can prevent costly errors.

A: As a covered entity, you must use the minimum amount of information necessary. Using the patient’s full name on a whiteboard is acceptable if you can justify this as the minimum amount of information necessary to support the provision of care.

Ideally, whiteboards with patients’ full names on them should not be visible to the public. Ensuring that whiteboards are in a location visible only to staff members is a good practice. If you deem it necessary to use patients’ last names on the whiteboard, using only their first initials is preferable to using their full first names. This practice would limit the PHI on display.

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