HIPAA (or HIPPA)
(I know that the thread is closed; I changed the header because this is important to know.)
The law allows those in direct contact with the patient care to discuss name, condition and treatments, no further.
The only way the dispatcher can legally know is if the one
originating the call informs the dispatcher when describing the
conditions or needs. That information is NOT allowed to be sent
over the air to the responding crew; one way to give them a heads
up is to advise the crew to "Use FULL CDC precautions upon
arrival" (then get them to acknowledge that info) and that is a
thin thin line (similar is going on now with CV19 risks). The
dispatcher notes the warning in the log and usually nothing
further is documented (department regs vary, so if written, that
documentation is handed to the medical supervisor for secure
filing) and they are forbidden to discuss it (even with the crew
that was sent!).
The responders MUST NOT use any patient name over the air in
relation to the event, if more than one patient, the number system
is used (patient 1, patient 2 etc). Once at the arriving
facility, a verbal AND written exchange (handoff) will happen to
the attending staff ONLY. Nothing goes undocumented these days,
the paperwork (including the written agency report) must be locked
in a vault accessible to a very limited number of people. The
crew can ONLY discuss the patient care with those in the facility
responsible for added care; they are not allowed to tell anyone
else, including the next shift, spouse or even other co-workers.
This also includes the family of the patient. This includes
electronic (tablet, computer) documentation (new since the law was
written) it must be SECURE.
The law is specific and clear in this regard. If you read it
carefully, bladder control is important, it's scary.
The standard issued line about patient care for reporters is "We
went, we found XXX of specific injuries, we
treated/transported." That's it. They can discuss the horrendous
wreck, the dramatic rescue or similar, ZERO about the patient
name, even by inference. (This is routinely stated as "We brought
in the victim of a drive-by shooting" but NO NAMES are allowed.)
This is still used, even if the patient is DOA.
Violation of the law brings numerous sharp gnashing teeth into
motion; one does not want to cross this line. God may forgive
you, but the judges won't and the lawyers will give you nightmares
So you're mistaken, the law is SPECIFIC in forbidding
communications beyond the above mentioned conditions. Condition,
state of transport or release but NO NAMES.
On 5/14/2020 6:18 PM, Rich wrote:
HIPAA does not apply to communications required to treat patients or to information shared for operations purposes. 45 C.F.R. § 164.501 Since information shared by a dispatch agency is shared to treat patients and to operate effectively as a dispatchservice, HIPAA most often does not apply to the communication.
With the use of systems like ePCR, there is no such thing as written documentation to "be locked in a vault"
Patient information, including the condition of the patient, is ALWAYS transmitted to the responding crew. In 99% of city agencies, the call taker is NEVER the dispatcher. What kind of fantasy land must one live in to think that a responding paramedic crew is not allowed to know the patient's condition? In said fantasy land ALL medical dispatches would go like this "Medic 1, xxx Main St." That's it, nothing else. Utter insanity to think that's how it works!
No dispatch information is "handed to the medical supervisor for secure filing" - 99% of city agencies have entirely electronic dispatch systems, so there is no such thing as "written documentation." Further, there is no dispatch agency that I've ever seen in 40 years in emergency services that has a "medical supervisor" hanging out in dispatch.