HIPAA -- Does a Note From a Doctor Create a Training Requirement?

A Kantola Learning Minute

An HR Director asks if getting doctor's notes from employees who are returning to work means that her business is now a covered entity that has to follow HIPAA laws? Find out in this week's Kantola Learning Minute with workplace trainer Linda Garrett, JD.

Hi, I'm Linda Garrett. We had a question from an HR Director as to those notes from doctors that they sometimes get when an employee is returning to work or is requesting an accommodation under the American's with Disabilities Act. And the question was, Am I now a HIPAA covered entity? Do I have to follow the HIPAA law if I have letters from doctors?

And the answer is 'no'. You got that letter because the employee gave an authorization to their doctor to send it to you. That doesn't create a HIPAA obligation on you. You may have other laws that protect the confidentiality and privacy of HR matters, so of course, you'd want to keep that in a confidential file under lock and key.

The only other thing I would note is that if you get a letter from a drug and alcohol program, and it carries with it a federal redisclosure warning, that would be something you'd have to pay a lot of attention to because what the federal law says when it comes to drug and alcohol records is that you cannot redisclose those records until you get another authorization from your employee.

I hope that helps. Thanks for watching.

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