May healthcare providers place medical charts on exam room doors?
Yes. The Privacy Rule permits this practice as long as the clinic takes reasonable and appropriate measures to protect the patient’s privacy. The physician or other healthcare professionals use the patient charts for treatment purposes. Incidental disclosures to others that might occur as a result of the charts being left in the box are permissible, so long as the minimum necessary and reasonable safeguards requirements are met. See 45 CFR 164.502(a)(1)(iii).
Since the purpose of leaving the chart in the box is to provide the physician with access to the medical information relevant to the examination, the minimum necessary requirement would be satisfied. Below are examples of what additional measures may be taken to safeguard information:
- Limiting access to certain areas and ensure the area is supervised
- Escorting non-employees in the area
- Placing the patient chart in the box with the front cover facing the wall rather than have protected health information visible to anyone who walks by