Confidentiality, Privacy and Security

fingerprint patients for identification

  • 1.  fingerprint patients for identification

    Posted 21 days ago
    Hello everyone!

    I'm reaching out to see if anyone has any insight on when, if ever, is it appropriate to engage law enforcement to fingerprint a patient whose identity is unknown, for the purposes of patient identification?

    My concern is that the Privacy Rule exceptions for disclosing information to law enforcement all focus on an initial request for PHI. In this case, WE are (potentially) engaging law enforcement, not the other way around, to help with identifying the unknown patient.


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    Karen Reynolds
    Director, Health Information Management
    North Kansas City Hospital
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  • 2.  RE: fingerprint patients for identification

    Posted 20 days ago
    Karen, I think it might depend on the circumstances.   If you are trying to identify a non-cooperative individual that may be pushing limits; however, if you are trying to identify a compromised individual (unresponsive) whose health and well-being is at risk, I think you could then make the case that it was in the best interest of the patient.   Years ago in my community a young man was hit by a car and languished a week until he was identified - and that was by using the press to describe physical characteristics.

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    Nancy Davis, MS, RHIA, CHPS
    Director of Compliance & Safety
    Door County Medical Center
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