Hurricane Harvey Disaster Zone Partial Waiver Issued by HHS

by | Aug 31, 2017


In a release yesterday, HHS Secretary Tom Price stated that OCR will waive sanctions and financial penalties for specific Privacy Rule violations against hospitals in the Hurricane Harvey disaster area.

This waiver is only applicable to the provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule as outlined below:

  • The obligation to seek a patient’s agreement to communicate with family members or friends involved in the patient’s care. See 45 CFR 164.510(b).
  • The requirement to respect a request to opt out of the facility directory. See 45 CFR 164.510(a).
  • The obligation to distribute a formal of privacy practices. See 45 CFR 164.520.
  • The patient’s right to request privacy restrictions. See 45 CFR 164.522(a).
  • The patient’s right to seek confidential communications. See 45 CFR 164.522(b)

These sanction waivers only apply to hospitals in the the Hurricane Harvey emergency regions that have been named in the public health emergency declaration.

The waiver is only applicable if hospitals have put in place a disaster protocol. In this case it is applicable for 72 hours after the disaster protocol has been implemented. It will remain in place only until the Presidential or Secretarial declaration terminates, even if the 72 hours has not elapsed at this point.

Further information on the limited sanction waiver of HIPAA sanctions and penalties as a result of Hurricane Harvey can be seen in this HIPAA bulletin from HHS.

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Patrick Kennedy

Patrick Kennedy is a highly accomplished journalist and editor with nearly two decades of experience in the field. With expertise in writing and editing content, Patrick has made significant contributions to various publications and organizations. Over the course of his career, Patrick has successfully managed teams of writers, overseeing the production of high-quality content and ensuring its adherence to professional standards. His exceptional leadership skills, combined with his deep understanding of journalistic principles, have allowed him to create cohesive and engaging narratives that resonate with readers. A notable area of specialization for Patrick lies in compliance, particularly in relation to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). He has authored numerous articles delving into the complexities of compliance and its implications for various industries. Patrick's comprehensive understanding of HIPAA regulations has positioned him as a go-to expert, sought after for his insights and expertise in this field. Patrick's bachelors degree is from the University of Limerick and his master's degree in journalism is from Dublin City University. You can contact Patrick through his LinkedIn profile:

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