A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Photos, Videos, & HIPAA

It has been said “a picture is worth a thousand words.”  That quote is so true in this COVID-19 era where friends and family must keep their distance from loved ones in nursing homes. The compassion and care that nursing home staff provide includes, now more than ever, the social wellbeing of residents and patients.  Sharing photographs and videos is a wonderful way to keep connected.  However, don’t forget Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance still is required.

Photos or videos containing any portion of a resident’s or patient’s face are considered Protected Health Information (PHI). That doesn’t mean you cannot take and share photos or videos.  HIPAA allows use and disclosure of photos or videos when proper authorization is provided by the resident, patient, or responsible party.

To be HIPAA compliant, authorization documentation must include the following:

  • The purpose for using and disclosing photos or videos; for example, “to share with her daughter/son” 
  • The timeframe the authorization applies; for example, “to send to daughter/son while the facility is on lockdown”
  • Explanation that the resident, patient, or responsible party have the right to revoke the authorization at any time
  • Explanation that the health care provider will not condition treatment, payment, or enrollment or eligibility for benefits on the resident, patient, or responsible party signing the authorization
  • Signature of the resident, patient or responsible party

Thanks to all for keeping residents and patients safe and connected while remaining HIPAA compliant.

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