Employee Handbook and HIPAA

February 1, 2008

I am a private pediatrician. I have an employee handbook that I wrote myself. Please advise me how much information and what exactly I need to include in my employee handbook on HIPAA. I already have a chapter on trade secrets, but I would like to be more specific on patient privacy.

Question: I am a private pediatrician. I have an employee handbook that I wrote myself. Please advise me how much information and what exactly I need to include in my employee handbook on HIPAA. I already have a chapter on trade secrets, but I would like to be more specific on patient privacy.

Answer: HIPAA does not delineate anything in particular except evidence that you’ve thought through the issues and educated staff. Written guidelines help prove that point. I suggest including a confidentiality agreement (there is a sample one in the Tools area of www.PhysiciansPractice.com).

Additionally, consider including written guidelines regarding who in your office should have access to what kinds of information - what staff member should be allowed to handle clinical records, whether pharmaceutical reps are allowed in the back office, how to handle leaving lab results on answering machines. Finally, you want to include basic but specific guidelines on patient privacy, such as turning charts backwards when hung on exam room doors so that details and names are not visible to passers-by - that sort of thing.