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Medical Group observes Health Information Privacy Week

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- "Confidential is Essential-Protect Health Information" is the theme of Health Information Privacy and Security Week 2008. This invaluable awareness event, held Sunday through April19, assures our communities that the Medical Group takes extraordinary measures to put and keep health information in the right hands.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by Congress in 1996 to set a national standard for electronic transfers of health data and establish health care standards or "privacy rules" that all United States health care providers, hospitals and organizations must follow to protect the privacy and security of health care information from unauthorized disclosure or use. As a beneficiary of the Department of Defense Military Health System (MHS) and TRICARE, one of the basic rights, aside from the right to receive quality healthcare, is the right to keep private a person's healthcare information.

Under HIPAA privacy rules, the MHS is required to inform a person about how their personal health care information is used, provide guidance on privacy rights, and limit use and disclosure of personal health care information.

One may wonder the difference between Privacy Act and HIPAA. Privacy Act covers Personally Identifiable Information (PII), which is any piece of information that can potentially be used to uniquely identify, contact, or locate a single person. For example, a full name, telephone number, street address, credit card numbers, date of birth, and Social Security Number are all PII. HIPAA, on the other hand, covers Protected Health Information (PHI), which is any information whether oral or recorded in any form of medium that is created or received by a health care provider, health plan, public health authority, or health care clearinghouse and relates to past, present, or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual.

Health information is a vital part of medicine. Keeping it safe is our mission. Committed professionals work diligently to maintain accurate healthcare information in a manner that protects lives, health, and privacy. It is a responsibility we take seriously. For more information call 494-8451.