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The University of Texas at Dallas

HIPAA Privacy Manual

Section 4: Permitted Use and Disclosure of PHI to Family and Friends – Individual Care and Notification Purposes


UTD may use and disclose certain PHI without the written consent or authorization to release the information from the individual. The individual must be informed in advance of the use or disclosure and have the opportunity to agree, prohibit, or restrict the disclosure. UTD may orally inform the individual of the permitted uses and disclosures and obtain the individual’s agreement or objection to a use or disclosure permitted by this policy. In some circumstances, UTD may use and disclose certain information without consent, authorization, or oral agreement as outlined within this policy. UTD faculty, staff and students must document the agreement, prohibition, or restriction in the medical record.

Uses and Disclosures for Involvement in the Individual’s Care and Notification Purposes: UTD may disclose to a family member, other relative, a close personal friend of the individual, or any other person identified by the individual, the PHI directly relevant to such person’s involvement with the individual’s care or payment related to the individual’s health care. UTD may use or disclose PHI to notify or to assist in the notification of a family member, a personal representative of the individual, or another person responsible for the care of the individual of the individual’s location, general condition, or death. UTD can also use and disclose PHI in these circumstances for identifying or locating the types of persons mentioned above. In order for UTD to use or disclose PHI for these purposes, the individual’s presence is a determining factor. The following processes outline how UTD may use and disclose PHI for these purposes.

Uses and Disclosures with the Individual present: If the individual is present for, or otherwise available prior to, a use or disclosure and has the capacity to make health care decisions, UTD may use or disclose the PHI if it:

  • Obtains the individual’s agreement;
  • Provides the individual with the opportunity to object to the disclosure, and the individual does not express an objection; or
  • Reasonably infers from the circumstances, based on the exercise of professional judgment that the individual does not object to such disclosure.

Limited Uses and Disclosures when the Individual is not present: If the individual is not present or the opportunity to agree or object to the use or disclosure cannot practicably be provided because of the individual’s incapacity or an emergency circumstance, UTD may, in exercise of professional judgment, determine whether the disclosure is in the best interests of the individual and, if so, disclose only the PHI that is directly relevant to the person’s involvement with the individual’s health care. UTD may use professional judgment and its experience with common practice to make reasonable inferences of the individual’s best interest in allowing a person to act on behalf of the individual to pick up medical supplies or other similar forms of PHI.