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HIPAA Quick Reference Guide For Employees

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7.0 Responding to questions about a patient

What can I tell an inpatient's family members or friends when they call and ask about a patient?

If the person inquiring can provide the patient's 4-digit code and the patient has not requested that information be withheld, we can release information relevant to the patient's current medical care (e.g. the patient's condition after surgery.)  If the inquirer can not provide the patient's 4-digit code, only directory information can be released, which includes the patient's name, whether the patient is at the University of Chicago Medicine, and the patient's general condition, such as "fair," "stable," or "good."

Is the patient's authorization needed to release directory information?

No.  If the patient has not exercised his/her right to "opt out" of the directory at the time of admission, the patient's authorization is not needed to release directory information.  [Directory information consists of confirming that the patient is in-house when given a name and patient's general condition.]

What if a patient doesn't want anyone to know he/she is admitted?

A patient has the right to request that information regarding his/her stay not be given to anyone outside the treatment team by notifying the Admission department staff that he/she wants to "opt out" or not be listed in the patient directory.

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