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New York Rule Change Allows Clinicians to Access Minors’ PHI via State HIE

HIPAA Journal
January 6, 2017
Healthcare providers that participate in the Western New York health information exchange – HEALTHeLINK – are now able to access the health information of minors aged between 10 and 17 after the passing of a new rule covering patient data access through qualified information exchanges.
The new rule allows the information of minors to be accessed if prior consent has been obtained by from parents or legal guardians via signed consent forms. To date, more than 870,000 adults in Western New York have already signed consent forms allowing their children’s information to be shared.
The rule change will ensure that treating pediatricians have access to the most up to date information, thus allowing them to make informed decisions about the best treatments to provide.
The move will help to ensure that full access to the full range of health information can always be obtained, which has previously been an issue when minors have received medical services from multiple healthcare providers. The rule change will help to ensure safer and more efficient provision of clinical care. This is of particular importance when children are taken to healthcare facilities by non-parental caregivers such as grandparents, who may not have access to a child’s full medical history. Dan Porreca, executive director of HEALTHeLINK, announced the rule update this week saying “This change in state policy gives parents and legal guardians the peace of mind that their child’s treating pediatrician or specialist will have the most up to date health information.”
However, while the information can now be accessed, some of the data contained in patients’ records may still be covered by state laws which prohibit re-disclosure to the minor’s parents without written consent being first obtained from the minor concerned.
Such situations may arise in the case of emancipated minors – Those who are freed from control by parents or legal guardians and the parents or legal guardians are freed from responsibility toward the child. There may be cases when the minor may not wish information about their reproductive health, HIV tests, STD treatments, or substance abuse to be disclosed, for instance.
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