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HIPAA Privacy Rule and Sharing Information Related to Mental Health

Questions and Answers about HIPAA and Mental Health

1. In recognition of the integral role that significant others play in a patient’s health care, the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows a health care provider to communicate with a patient’s family, friends, or others who are involved, as long as the patient who has the capacity to make health care decisions doesn’t object.

A. True

B. False

Does HIPAA Provide Extra Protections for Mental Health Information?

2. Which of the following is an accurate statement about psychotherapy notes and HIPAA protection?

A. Psychotherapy notes are treated differently from other mental health information since they contain particularly sensitive information

B. They are protected because they are the personal notes of the therapist that typically are not required or useful for treatment, payment, or health care operations purposes, other than by the professional who created them

C. An exception for protection of psychotherapy notes exists for disclosures such as mandatory reporting of abuse, and mandatory “duty to warn” situations regarding threats of serious and imminent harm made by the patient

D. All of the above

When a Patient with a Serious Mental Illness Stops Taking a Prescribed Medication

3. If a seriously mentally ill patient stops taking his or her prescribed medication, HIPAA allows the provider to inform the family in all circumstances when he or she feels it is in the patient’s best interest to do so.

A. True

B. False

Can a Minor Child’s Doctor Talk to the Child’s Parent about Mental Health Status and Needs?

4. Under the Privacy Rule, there are certain times when a parent is not treated as a minor child’s personal representative, including each of the following circumstances EXCEPT:

A. When state or other law does not require the consent of a parent or other person before a minor can obtain a particular health care service, the minor consents to the health care service, and the minor child has not requested the parent be treated as a personal representative

B. When someone other than the parent is authorized by law to consent to the provision of a particular health service to a minor and provides such consent

C. When a minor child of at least 12 years old specifically requests that such information not be released

D. When a parent agrees to a confidential relationship between the minor and a health care provider with respect to the health care service

Does a Parent Have a Right to Receive a Copy of Psychotherapy Notes About a Child's Mental Health Treatment?

5. Since parents are generally the personal representatives of their child, they are able to receive a copy of their child’s mental health information contained in the medical record, including psychotherapy notes.

A. True

B. False

If a Doctor Believes That a Patient Might Hurt Self or Others, is There Duty to Warn?

6. HIPAA permits a covered health care provider to notify a patient’s family members of a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of the patient or others if those family members are in a position to lessen or avert the threat.

A. True

B. False

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