Confidentiality, Privacy and Security

Dog Bite

  • 1.  Dog Bite

    Posted 8 days ago
    We received a fax from the police department asking for records for a dog bite
    they are investigating.  It has the patient's name on it, it's on their letterhead.
    Since it is an investigation, can we release it?

    Cheryl Ervin, RHIT
    Community Hospital of Bremen

  • 2.  RE: Dog Bite

    Posted 8 days ago
    HIPAA lists various instances when disclosures to law enforcement do not require patient authorization to agree or object.

    1) When required by law
    2) In response to a law enforcement officials request to identify or locate a suspect, fugitive, material witness, or missing person (limited data should be released)
    3) in response to a law enforcement officials request about an individual who is or is suspected to be a victim of a crime
    4) to a law enforcement when the covered entity believes the information is evidence of criminal conduct on premise
    5) to law enforcement in response to a medical emergency
    6) When the patient is a victim of abuse, neglect or domestic violence
    7) For a court order, warrant, subpoena or summons

    Although the above do not meet the specific criteria at first blush I would say it's ok to release but document that is was requested by law enforcement.

    Thanks Kris

    Kris Lundell MBA,  CIPP/US, CiPT, CHP, CHPS, HCISPP
    Privacy and Security Consultants LLC

  • 3.  RE: Dog Bite

    Posted 3 days ago
    In my state this is covered by local ordinance.  Here is where it gets tricky, some people do not want dog/animal bites reported because 1) it is there pet and they want to protect their pet; 2) it is a friend/relative's pet and they want to protect it.   It can be a bit more controversial then you would think.

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

  • 4.  RE: Dog Bite

    Posted 7 days ago
    Good morning Cheryl,
    I agree with Kris. I also believe it's okay to release due to this excerpt from the Privacy Rule FAQs, provided the fax request meets this requirements for you:

    To respond to an administrative request, such as an administrative subpoena or investigative demand or other written request from a law enforcement official. Because an administrative request may be made without judicial involvement, the Rule requires all administrative requests to include or be accompanied by a written statement that the information requested is relevant and material, specific and limited in scope, and de-identified information cannot be used (45 CFR 164.512(f)(1)(ii)(C)).

    I don't know if this applies to you, but we have a local law that requires healthcare providers to notify law enforcement when there is a dog bite. Perhaps there is something similar in your area and they are following up on a concern that was brought to their attention from the ED or another care location?

    I hope this helps you some,

    Kathryn Wood, RHIA
    Assist Dir of Information Systems/Privacy Officer
    War Memorial Hospital

  • 5.  RE: Dog Bite

    Posted 6 days ago



    I recommend getting a signed authorization from the patient or a warrant or subpoena from the police.  That way you're covered.  I think there needs to be something to compel you to disclose the information since it doesn't really fall under "required by law".  It would fall under "required by law" if you received a warrant or subpoena from the police




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