Some frequently asked questions about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act include the definition of HIPAA, who must comply with the regulation and what type of information is protected, explains the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other frequently asked questions involve the rules on disclosure of protected health information and how providers, researchers and other entities can determine the minimum necessary information to disclose for a certain purpose, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act is defined as a comprehensive regulation that protects the privacy of patients by prohibiting health care professionals from distributing protected health information for purposes unrelated to the patient's medical treatment without the patient's consent, according to American Academy of Family Physicians. Any organization or individual that stores or transmits health information that can individually identify a patient must comply with the HIPAA regulation. Protected health information includes the patient's name, birthdate, Social Security number, medical condition, medical records number and date of admission, discharge or death.
HIPAA allows covered entities to disclose protected health information to the patient in question, reports University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. A doctor who refers a patient to another doctor, a nursing home or a laboratory can release protected health information to these entities to aid in treatment.
Providers and organizations covered by HIPAA are expected to make their own assessments on how to limit the use and disclosure of protected health information, according to the National Institutes of Health. However, the standard on minimizing the level of disclosure doesn't apply if the patient gives consent.