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The HIPAA Privacy Rule established the first national standards for protecting individuals’ medical records and other personal health information. Health care providers (including hospitals, public health departments, clinics, and healthcare staff) are legally bound to comply with HIPAA requirements.

The HIPPA Privacy Rule:

  • Gives patients more control over their health information
  • Sets boundaries on the use and release of health records
  • Establishes appropriate safeguards that health care providers and others must achieve to protect the privacy of health information.
  • Holds violators accountable with civil and criminal penalties that can be imposed if they violate patients’ privacy rights

For additional information, visit the official federal government hub for all HIPPA issues.

For Patients and Clients

At Harris County Public Health (HCPH), the protection of our patients' privacy is critical. We believe that our commitment to client confidentiality is an important step to building a relationship of trust and collaboration with our patients, their families and our community. All of the staff at HCPH that share in your health information receive special HIPAA training on effectively managing and protecting your confidential information.

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

Your rights under HIPAA include:

  • The right to know what will happen to your protected health information
  • The right to examine or request a copy of your protected health information
  • The right to request corrections to your protected health information
  • The right to sign an authorization form releasing/requesting protected health information
  • The right to request limited access to your information as allowed by HIPAA
  • The right to cancel a signed authorization
  • The right to report a HIPAA violation

To report a HIPAA-covered complaint or violation, you have three options:

  1. File online with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  2. Contact the Health Information Management Manager, Matthew Thompson: 713.274.8508
  3. 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). Health and Human Services also recognizes the importance of continuing to authorize the sharing of protected health information for public health purposes. See 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. See 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.

All HCPH staff that request PHI will follow these procedures:

    1. By phone, we will always identify ourselves and the patients about whom we are inquiring
    2. In person, we will present an official HCPH badge for identification
    3. By fax or mail, we will submit our request on official HCPH letterhead

We ask that you communicate these procedures 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 a HCPH request for release of information, please contact the  HCPH Health Information Management Department at 713.439.6136.