May 16

Does Overhead paging = HIPAA violation?

Reproduced from [name of publication] © 2008 HCPro, Inc., 200 Hoods Lane, Marblehead, MA 01945. (Provigil) 781/639-1872. www.hcpro.com. Used with permission.

So is overhead paging a patient by name back to a clinic or hospital area a HIPAA violation?  Well it depends on whether the name of the clinic or area would reveal anything about the patient’s condition. Paging, “John Jones to report to the HIV Clinic,” would obviously violate his privacy. Paging him to the Medicine Clinic would reveal much less information. A better approach, though, would be to ask the patient to dial a specific extension for more information (e.g., “John Jones, please call extension 2500”) if possible.

All healthcare organizations should attempt to significantly limit the amount of overhead paging that staff members do, to both protect patient privacy and minimize disruptions to others. Some organizations actually give patients flashing pagers, similar to those used to in restaurants, to notify them when to return to treatment areas.

About Reed Tinsley, CPA

As a top advisor to physicians, I help increase practice profits by delivering hands-on, expert medical accounting/tax support, practice counsel, and revenue-building strategies. Read more →