Health Privacy Principles for Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence

Health Privacy Principles for Protecting Victims of Domestic Violence
This information was taken from an article at

Guiding Principle:All policy, protocol, and practice surrounding the use and disclosure of health information regarding victims of domestic violence should respect patient autonomy and confidentiality and serve to improve the safety and health status of victims of domestic violence.

Specific Principles:

  1. De-identified information: Personal identifiers should be removed, to the fullest extent possible, before information is used or disclosed.
  2. Safeguards: Health care organizations should implement security safeguards to prevent unauthorized access to health information.
  3. Patient Access: An individual should have the right to access, correct, amend, and supplement her or his own health information.
  4. Notice: Individuals should receive notice of how health information is used and disclosed.
  5. Patient Authorization: Identifiable health information should not be disclosed without patient authorization (including minors).
  6. Provider Discretion: Health care professionals should have broad discretion to withhold information from third parties when disclosure could harm the patient who is the subject of the information.
  7. Alternative Address: A victim should be permitted to provide alternative contact information for billing and communications.
  8. Warrants and Court Orders: Health information should not be disclosed to law enforcement personnel without a warrant or court order and only relevant information should be disclosed in civil proceedings.
  9. Mandatory Reporting: Mandatory reporting and other laws specifically related to domestic violence should be examined and amended as necessary to address privacy.
  10. Chain of Trust: Privacy protections should follow the data.
  11. Penalties: Strong and effective remedies for violations of privacy protections should be established.
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