Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The HIPAA Privacy Rule established the first national standards for protecting individuals’ medical records and other personal health information.

It gives patients more control over their health information.
It sets boundaries on the use and release of health records.
It establishes appropriate safeguards that health care providers and others must achieve to protect the privacy of health information.
It holds violators accountable with civil and criminal penalties that can be imposed if they violate patients’ privacy rights.
Health care providers (including hospitals, public health departments, clinics, and healthcare staff) are legally bound to comply with HIPAA requirements

For additional information visit the official federal government hub for all HIPAA issues at http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/hipaa

For Patients and Clients

At Harris County Public Health (HCPH),our patients’ privacy is of utmost importance. We believe that our commitment to client confidentiality is an important step to building a relationship of trust and collaboration with our patients, as well as their families and communities. All HCPH staff working with your health information receive special HIPAA training on how to handle and protect your confidential information.

Visit our Notice of Privacy Practices (available in English and in Spanish) for descriptions of how your health information may be used and disclosed.

Your rights under HIPAA include:
  • Right to know what will happen to your protected health information
  • Right to examine or request a copy of your protected health information
  • Right to request corrections to your protected health information
  • Right to sign an authorization form releasing/requesting protected health information
  • Right to request limited access to your information as allowed by HIPAA
  • Right to cancel a signed authorization
  • Right to report a HIPAA violations in the following ways:
Online via the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services web site:

Contact the Harris County Attorney’s Office
Privacy Officer, Lisa Dahm:  (713) 274-5245

Contact the Office of Civil Rights, Region VI 
Department of Health & Human Services
1301 Young Street, Suite 1169
Dallas, Texas 75202
Phone: (214) 767-4056
Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers are essential partners in our efforts to protect the health information of Harris County residents.

Please note that HIPAA regulations do not affect the legal requirements in the Texas Health and Safety Code 81 for reporting of notifiable diseases and providing access to medical records when needed as part of a public health investigation.
Congress intended that this legislation not impede public health practice [42 USCA Section 1320d-7(b)]. HHS similarly recognizes the importance of continuing to authorize the sharing of protected health information for public health purposes [45 CFR Section 164.512(b)(l)(i)].
The privacy regulations authorize providers to disclose health information without an individual’s authorization for specified public health purposes [45 CFR Section 164.512 (a)].
Public health authorities have a long history of protecting and preserving the confidentiality of protected health information (PHI) obtained from patients and providers.

If HCPH staff request PHI over the phone, we will always identify ourselves and the patients about whom we are inquiring.
If HCPH staff request PHI in person, we will present an official HCPH badge for identification.
If HCPH staff request PHI via fax or mail, we will submit our request on official HCPH letterhead.
We ask that you convey this information to all levels of your staff to ensure compliance and cooperation. This includes providing access to paper and electronic medical records as necessary.

If you have any questions about HCPH request for release of information, please contact the HCPH Privacy Officer Lisa Dahm at (713) 274-5245, or HCPH Health Information Services at (713) 439-6025.