Are “White Boards” allowed in HIPAA?

custom white board

Are “White Boards”, erasable patient information boards allowed in HIPAA?

White boards, erasable patient information boards, are a means of communicating certain information about patients to the healthcare providers who care for them. One use is a board that has patient safety-related information about an individual patient. This information might include fall precautions, transfer status, and difficulty in swallowing: important information for a healthcare provider to know. the HIPAA Privacy Rule repeatedly states that the intent of the Rule is not to interfere with customary and necessary communications in the healthcare of the individual. In this care, the safety of the patient comes first.

This information should be limited to the minimum necessary for the purpose, and the board should be posted in a designated are to reduce disclosures to individuals who are not involved in the care of the patient, such as visitors to the patient’s room. Visitors may see this information on a board posted in the patient’s room, but often these visitors are family or friends who have been invited by the patient; therefore, the healthcare provider can assume the patient is comfortable with the visitors seeing the information. The patient should be informed of the right to deny access to any “well meaning but intrusive visitors.” Some providers use symbols know only to the healthcare providers to communicate information.

Other types of boards may have multiple patient’s information listed. Each facility needs to assess the use of these types of boards against the HIPAA to insure compliance.

Provided by the Department of Health & Human Services; Office for Civil Rights

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