EMS.gov | New Resources Help EMS Clinicians and Agencies Navigate HIPAA
Nationwide, EMS agencies regularly report that hospitals and other healthcare workers refuse to share patient information with them, citing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) concerns. Misconceptions about HIPAA can create artificial barriers to the legitimate, approved exchange of data between EMS and other providers, resulting in missed opportunities to improve patient outcomes and advance evidence-based practices in prehospital care.
To address this issue, the NEMSIS Technical Assistance Center collaborated with the law firm Page, Wolfberg & Wirth to provide helpful resources explaining the sharing of patient information between EMS and other healthcare professionals:
- HIPAA Basics for EMS Practitioners – This poster provides HIPAA guidance relevant to EMS clinicians, including tips for accessing and sharing protected health information across a variety of situations.
- HIPAA: An Imaginary Barrier to Data Exchange – This white paper discusses why HIPAA does not restrict the bidirectional patient information sharing but actually promotes the sharing of patient information between hospitals or other healthcare entities and EMS agencies.
- Short Legal Opinion: Sharing Patient Data Bidirectionally Under HIPAA – Developed specifically for healthcare administrators, legal counsel, and risk management, this brief legal opinion describes how sharing of patient information is not only allowed but encouraged under HIPAA.
- Detailed Legal Opinion: HIPAA Concerns About Releasing Information for NEMSIS – This legal opinion provides detailed analysis of HIPAA issues related to the sharing of patient information with entities involved in the administration of the National EMS Information System.
While obstacles may remain for the appropriate sharing of patient information, HIPAA is not one of them. Sharing patient information benefits EMS agencies and improves prehospital patient care by revealing evidence-based practices that make a difference for patients in the field.