Communicable Disease Reporting
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was enacted which addressed the sharing of confidential medical information. This has raised questions among a number of physicians about HIPAA requirements and the reporting of confidential data related to communicable diseases and immunization to local health departments.
The HIPAA legislation does address this question and states that reporting of Communicable Diseases to the local or state health department are exempt because they are mandated within the Texas State Health & Safety Code and are used for surveillance and prevention of communicable diseases. This is addressed in section §164.512(b) of the HIPAA regulations.
Physicians who are concerned about reporting communicable diseases as required under the Texas Health and Safety Code can be reassured that this is permitted under HIPAA and that they are not required to obtain patient written consent before sending this information to the local health department.
Please see the DSHS memo to healthcare providers and reporting entities.
Additional information from the DHHS that explains these regulations can be found at: