"We can say, 'Helen Young is here. She's in Room 522 and she's in good condition.'" That's what you hear now when you call Rockingham Memorial Hospital to check on a patient. But, that's all going to change.
"Patients are going to have to give us permission to put them in the directory, where before, we just automatically put them there," said Helen Young, the new privacy officer for RMH. She says HIPAA was put into place mainly to keep certain lists private and to keep them from being sold. Now she says it's grown into a lot of restrictions.
For example, if you want to send flowers to a friend in the hospital, they must be in the directory, otherwise they won't be delivered. If you want to pick up a prescription for a sick family member or friend, you can, but there will be limitations.
"Pharmacies will have to be careful as to what they release as far as what the drugs do and how they effect and what interactions they have with somebody other than the patient," said Young.
The only exception is an emergency situation.
"We're assuming someone is looking for you in an emergency situation," said Young. "So we will add you until a relative arrives. Then they will have to tell us whether to keep you on the directory."
There are lots of things you need to know about HIPAA regulations. For more information, visit http://www.cms.gov/hipaa/hipaa1">www.cms.govRegulations go into effect April 15.