Release of Protected Health Information to Commanders
October 7, 2010
<b>Release of Protected Health Information to Commanders</b>
<b>What it is' </b>
Commanders play a vital role in the health and wellness of Soldiers and therefore must receive Soldiers' protected health information (PHI) from medical providers to make informed decisions about a Soldier's fitness and duty limitations. There are however, limits to the information providers may release. The Army must balance a Soldier's right to privacy with mission requirements and the commander's right to know.
<b> What has the Army done' </b>
The Army Vice Chief of Staff, Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, issued a "Vice Sends" message in May 2010 that required providers to discuss with Soldiers how PHI may be released to their commander. The Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker, issued new PHI policy guidelines in June to Army Medical Command personnel. Medical personnel must notify commanders about their Soldiers' PHI if the Soldiers' condition affects his or her fitness for duty, if a law or regulation requires commander notification, or if the mission of the Army requires commander notification.
Some examples of when PHI may be released to commanders include: Soldiers' duty restrictions, changes in duty or deployment status, medications that may limit duty performance, DoD drug test results, immunizations, temporary or permanent profiles, medical line of duty determinations, Army weight control or any time Soldiers are perceived as a threat or potential risk to themselves or others.
<b>What does the Army have planned for the future' </b>
To enhance continuity of care, military treatment facility commanders are required to develop procedures locally to inform Soldiers' commanders anytime a Soldier is a "no show" for medical/dental appointment. Soldiers are also required during a permanent change of station to in and out process behavioral health services at their departing and gaining medical treatment facilities. Both efforts are to promote a Soldier's continuity of care.
<b>Why the release of PHI to commanders is important to the Army' </b>
Collaborative communication between commanders and healthcare providers is essential for Army readiness and the health and wellness of Soldiers. Commanders and healthcare providers are equally responsible for ensuring Soldiers' PHI remains safe from unauthorized disclosure to help the Army reduce stigma for Soldiers and eliminate barriers to care.
<i>AKO log in required:</i>
<a href="https://www.us.army.mil/suite/portal/index.jsp jsessionid=4A30DF12DE006C7E6B0852EEAEC5B267.appd03_1" target="_blank">ALARACT, 160/2/10 VCSA Sends on Protected Heath Information (PHI), 282049Z May 10</a>
<a href="https://www.us.army.mil/suite/doc/23532096" target="_blank"> AR 40-66, Medical Records and Healthcare Documentation, June 17, 08 with Rapid Action Revision, Jan. 4, 10 RAR Edition - AR40-66 - dated Jan. 4, 10 </a>
<a href="https://www.us.army.mil/suite/doc/23532096" target="_blank"> OTSG/MEDCOM Policy Memo 10-042, Release of Protected Health Information (PHI) to Unit Command Officials, Jun. 30, 2010</a>