Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Clinical Student Handbook

Patient Confidentiality and Privacy

Students are trained regarding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations before their entrance into the clinical system. Coursework regarding professional ethics also addresses patient confidentiality.

Patient confidentiality must be respected at all times. Each patient in a NWHSU teaching clinic is given a set of documents entitled “Northwestern Health Sciences University Clinic System Notice of Privacy Practices,” which guarantees the University’s compliance with federal and state laws and regulations ensuring privacy and confidentiality of Protected Health Information (PHI).

HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. Protected Health Information is ANY information created or received that identifies a specific person whether in spoken, paper or electronic communication. Examples of PHI include but are not limited to:

  • Name, address, zip code, phone or fax numbers, E-mail address
  • Date of Birth
  • Social security number
  • Health plan ID or account number
  • Health history, documentation & content of patient records

PHI may not be discussed outside of teaching clinics and conversations with patients that may contain clinical information should ONLY OCCUR in the treatment room, not in the reception areas or common areas of the clinic.

PHI is confidential. To ensure confidentiality is maintained, patients should never be identifiable in any notes other than those of the patient’s chart. If written material is used for classroom case presentations all references to PHI is strictly prohibited.

No information may be released to anyone without the written consent of the patient. Misuse of patient information is a violation of the rules of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice and the policies of NWHSU. A patient requesting that records be released or obtained must complete a NWHSU “Release of Patient Information” form.

Patient records must remain in the clinic at all times. Removal of patient records is a breach of University policy and will result in disciplinary action against the student. Patient files must never be left in the reception area. Patient files must always be returned to the patient file cabinet at the end of the day by the clinic reception staff.

An intern’s disregard for NWHSU HIPAA policies will result in disciplinary action which may include dismissal from the program.

The University’s compliance officer should be consulted with questions regarding patient records, PHI or HIPAA.