OCR Releases Guidance on PHI De-Identification in Accordance with HIPAA

OCR Releases Guidance on PHI De Identification in Accordance with HIPAAOn November 26, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights released guidance on methods for de-identification of protected health information in keeping with the HIPAA Privacy Rule (as required under the HITECH Act).   The guidance answers questions related to each of the permissible de-identification methods – the expert determination (statistician) method and safe harbor method.  It incorporates comments and stakeholder feedback received during a March 2010 workshop. The guidance does not contain any surprises, but does confirm many commonly-accepted interpretations of the Privacy Rule related to de-identification and also provides helpful additional detail concerning some of the technical aspects of the two de-identification methodologies. The full text of the guidance can be found at: http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/understanding/coveredentities/De-identification/hhs_deid_guidance.pdf.

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