R is for Reasonable Safeguards

Protecting PHI

Protect PHI

Reasonable Safeguards are precautions that a prudent person should take to prevent a disclosure of PHI. These must be applied to protect all forms of PHI: verbal, paper, and electronic.  They help prevent unauthorized uses or disclosures of PHI.

Verbal PHI

Reasonable Safeguards must be applied to all of your verbal disclosures of PHI. When you are working with a patient, first determine who is with the patient before discussing PHI.  Do not assume the patient permits disclosure of their PHI just because family or a friend is in the room with them. Ask who is with the patient and if the patient permits disclosure; or ask the persons to leave the room providing the patient an opportunity to object.

Prevent Violations

The use of reasonable safeguards may be the difference between an Office for Civil Rights finding of a privacy violation or a finding that an incidental disclosure occurred which is secondary to a permissible disclosure, and not a violation. Reasonable safeguards protect PHI and help prevent you from violating patient privacy.