Health Law Highlights

HHS Issues Guidance to Teaching Hospitals and Medical Schools on Informed Consent Requirements

From The HIPAA Journal, by Steve Alder:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a letter to teaching hospitals and medical schools, emphasizing the necessity of obtaining informed consent from patients before conducting sensitive examinations, particularly when the patient is under anesthesia. The letter comes in response to reports indicating that medical students often perform such examinations without obtaining proper consent during their training. The HHS insists on the importance of documenting informed consent and upholds the patients’ right to refuse such examinations for teaching purposes. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided new guidelines to clarify hospital responsibilities regarding informed consent. Furthermore, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) underscores the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which allows patients to restrict access to their protected health information (PHI), even when unconscious.