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Is Patient Authorization Required for Health Care Providers to Disclose PHI for Treatment Purposes?

Learning Objectives
1. Describe the myth or issue that impacts physicians and their care teams
2. Explain whether health care providers need patient authorization to share protected health information (PHI) with other clinicians or clinical entities for treatment purposes
0.25 Credit CME

To earn full credit for this activity, you must review all accompanying resources, which have been curated to support your learning of the subject matter.

The Myth

HIPAA requires that health care providers obtain patient authorization to disclose protected health information (PHI) for treatment purposes.

Debunking the Myth

Apart from psychotherapy notes—in which specific requirements apply—health care providers are not required to procure authorization or consent from patients to disclose PHI to another clinician or clinical entity for treatment purposes under HIPAA, as the HIPAA Privacy Rule permits such disclosures to facilitate patient care. 13

AMA Policy


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The AMA Debunking Medical Practice Regulatory Myths series provides physicians and their care teams with regulatory clarification to streamline clinical workflow processes and improve patient outcomes. Learn more

Article Information

AMA CME Accreditation Information

CME Disclosure Statement: Unless noted, all individuals in control of content reported no relevant financial relationships.

If applicable, all relevant financial relationships have been mitigated.

Department of Health and Human Services.  Section 164.506 - Uses and Disclosures to Carry out Treatment, Payment, or Health Care Operations. ; 2003. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CFR-2003-title45-vol1/xml/CFR-2003-title45-vol1-sec164-506.xml
Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  Does a physician need a patient's written authorization to send a copy of the patient's medical record to a specialist or other health care provider who will treat the patient?  HHS.gov. Published December 19 , 2002. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/faq/271/does-a-physician-need-written-authorization-to-send-medical-records-to-a-specialist/index.html
Office for Civil Rights (OCR) HIPPA Privacy.  Uses and Disclosures for Treatment, Payment, and Health Care Operations.  HHS.gov. Published December 3 , 2003. Accessed October 12, 2022. https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/disclosures-treatment-payment-health-care-operations/index.html
AMA CME Accreditation Information

Credit Designation Statement: The American Medical Association designates this Enduring Material activity for a maximum of 0.25  AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Successful completion of this CME activity, which includes participation in the evaluation component, enables the participant to earn up to:

  • 0.25 Medical Knowledge MOC points in the American Board of Internal Medicine's (ABIM) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program;;
  • 0.25 Self-Assessment points in the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery’s (ABOHNS) Continuing Certification program;
  • 0.25 MOC points in the American Board of Pediatrics’ (ABP) Maintenance of Certification (MOC) program;
  • 0.25 Lifelong Learning points in the American Board of Pathology’s (ABPath) Continuing Certification program; and
  • 0.25 credit toward the CME of the American Board of Surgery’s Continuous Certification program

It is the CME activity provider's responsibility to submit participant completion information to ACCME for the purpose of granting MOC credit.


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