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Appropriate disclosure for Snail mail?

May 19, 2016


Question:

Hi Jennifer,

I had a question about a general unable to contact patient letter? If the office has tried to reach a patient by phone and is unable to contact the patient regarding labs, is it safe to say that "we have been trying to contact you regarding your labs" or should we write "regarding your recent visit"? I don't want to disclose too much information in the letter just in case it is opened by someone else. 

Please let me know. 

Thank you :)



Answer:

Okay, for our answer here I am going to assume the patient's address was provided by the patient, so we can also assume it is correct, and by letter, you also are intending on sending snail mail.  By snail mail (or by email) we have consent (implied) that the patient has an expectation of receiving communication from you.  If you found the address online, or other means but not through the patient, other issues may exist not mentioned here.  Assuming, as stated before, the patient provided the address, the standard we would proceed under is that set by HIPAA, which requires you disclose the "minimum necessary" to accomplish your task.  The task here is getting the patient to come in or call for results.  I recommend you say as little as possible to accomplish the aim, with the confidence that the address was provided and laws exist protecting the content of the message from prying eyes. To give more specific advice, I also would prefer to see a less specific message were conveyed - possibly just notice that Dr. __ wishes to hear from the patient, and providing a proper phone number. 

For additional advice, please call and we will discuss particular circumstances. 
 

 





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