HIPAA: Physician Practice and a Hospice

Q: Is it necessary for a physician practice and a hospice organization to have a business associates (BA) agreement? It seems that a BA agreement would be unnecessary, because both parties are covered entities, but we can't find the specific regulation that addresses the situation.

A: Any covered healthcare provider may share PHI with another healthcare provider for treatment purposes without a BA agreement. Refer to 45 CFR 164.502(e)(1) in the privacy rule.

Because the privacy rule does not specifically address many questions that arise in practice, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provides helpful answers to many questions on its Web site. Visit www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa to review these frequently asked questions. Under "Educational Materials," select "Your Frequently Asked Questions on Privacy." You can also search the OCR Web site using keywords. For example, searching for "business associates" will help you find the answer to this question.

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