Clergy Visitation and Patient Privacy
The Importance of Patient Privacy
As ministers and health care professionals, the Baptist Memorial Health Care Corporation's Department of Pastoral Care understands keeping confidences promotes the trust that our members and patients place in us. It also encourages people to seek the help that they need. We want to work with you to protect the privacy of your members and our patients. As we strive to serve our patients and comply with regulations, please let us know if
you have any questions or if you are having trouble locating a member of your house of worship. We will be glad to help.
Federal law regulates how patient information is treated and protected. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that hospitals and other health care providers protect the confidentiality of patient information that is individually
identifiable. This includes all patient information that is communicated orally, in written form, or electronically.
Failure to comply with HIPAA can result in serious civil and criminal penalties.
Patients have the right to expect that health care providers will treat their medical records as confidential information. This includes information about their medical condition
and any identifiable demographic information.
Patients can choose not to be listed in the hospital census. This, in effect, makes them no publicity patients. You should be aware that this may prevent you from receiving any information about such patients, including whether or not they have been admitted to the hospital, even if you ask for them by name.
Patients can decide not to be included in any faith group listings.
How HIPPA Impacts Clergy Access to Patient Information
HIPAA makes special provisions for clergy access to patient information. Under the new regulations, clergy may request a listing of all patients who belong to their faith group if
they have provided this information to the hospital.
Some of our hospitals will also be able to provide clergy with lists of patients who belong to their houses of worship.
The hospital can provide members of the clergy with names, room numbers, and general conditions (if available) of the patients who belong to their faith group or house of worship.
This information is also available for authorized employees of houses of worship who call the hospital on behalf of the clergy.
Laypersons’ Access to Patient Information
Under the HIPAA guidelines, laypersons are not allowed access to lists of patients, including faith group lists. Unlike clergy, laypersons must ask for patients by name. The
hospital can provide laypersons with the room number and general condition (if available) of a patient if they have the patient’s name and if the patient has not opted out of being listed in the census.