Frequently Asked Questions : Employee Access & Disclosure

May I leave a message on a patient’s answering machine?

Yes, the Privacy Rule “does not prohibit us from leaving messages for patients on their answering machines.” However, to “reasonably safeguard” the individual’s privacy, we need to “take care to limit the amount of information disclosed on the answering machine.” Remember, anyone in the residence may be able to listen to the message. The guidance further explains that we should consider “leaving only [our] name and number and other information necessary to confirm an appointment, or ask the individual to call back.” The guidance does not further elaborate on this issue; however, it is recommended to avoid leaving details related to a past admission, surgical procedure, or test results.