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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on April 08, 2004

Common Myths About Your Health Information Rights

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Georgetown, South Carolina - April 11-17 is National Health Information Privacy and Security Week, sponsored by the American Health Information Management Association. This week is designated to raise the awareness among the public about the importance of personal health information privacy and security.

Georgetown Hospital System joins healthcare providers across the country in marking the one-year anniversary of the federal privacy regulations, Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which became law on April 14, 2003.

There are a number of common myths surrounding HIPAA regulations. As part of local participation in this national event, Georgetown Hospital System reminds consumers of the following:

MYTH 1:Your healthcare provider cannot leave messages for you on your answering machine or with someone who answers the phone.

FACT: The Privacy Rule does not prohibit healthcare providers from leaving messages for patients on their answering machines, although we do try to only give a very limited amount of information when we call if we cannot reach you personally. The HIPAA Rule also permits healthcare providers to disclose limited information to family members, friends, of others you may designate regarding your care, even when you are not present. You do have the right to request an alternate communication method if you do not want to receive messages at home.

MYTH 2:Your healthcare provider must have your approval to disclose your personal health information to another healthcare provider.

FACT: Your provider can share your health information with another provider if there is a reason to believe you will or have received health care there. Information regarding treatment, payment, and healthcare operations may be shared without your specific authorization.

MYTH 3:You MUST sign the Notice of Privacy Practices.

FACT: your signature is not required on this document. The healthcare provider must provide the notice and make a good faith effort to obtain a written acknowledgment from you that you have received it the first time you go to that provider after April 14, 2003.

MYTH 4:Your doctor cannot discuss your care with your family members.

FACT: The Privacy Rule permits healthcare providers to share information with those you identify as being either directly involved in your care, or someone who will be involved in payment for your care.

MYTH 5:Your name and location while in the Hospital may not be given out without your consent.

FACT: You must specifically ask not to be listed in a Hospital’s directory when you are admitted, if you do not want it known that you are a patient there.


Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 60 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.