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HIPAA Q&A: Minor’s record

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Q. Whom should we notify if a minor’s record is breached? For example, a grandparent who works in our healthcare organization reviews the record of a newborn grandchild without authorization.

A. When breaches occur, you are required to notify the affected patients or their legal representatives. A minor child’s legal representative is a parent or legal guardian.

Editor’s note: Mary D. Brandt, MBA, RHIA, CHE, CHPS, answered this question. Brandt, a nationally recognized expert on patient privacy, information security, and regulatory compliance, is associate executive director of Health Information Management (HIM) at Scott & White Healthcare in Temple, TX. Some of her publications were used as a basis for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 privacy regulations. Advice given is general. Readers should consult professional counsel for specific legal, ethical, or clinical questions.


  1. Tom Dumez says:

    Mary’s answer is correct. This brings up a whole other subject though. Has any training taken place with the employees? Was it a good training, or just a brief “here are some things that we cannot do” type of training? If properly done, the employee should have known better. Were any disciplinary actions taken? It is a requirement found in the federal law for you to have a statement in your policy and procedure manual dealing specifically with “unlawful disclosure of PHI”, as well as exersizing your disciplinary actions against this employee. If the parents of the minor really pressed the issue, you could open a can of worms simply by not disciplining this employee.
    Contact me offline if you might be interested in an employee training program.

    Tom (tomd@kentrecords.com)

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