On August 21, 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) was signed into law. One part of the law requires the adoption of uniform national standards for health information, establishing how information should be formatted, shared, and protected. This will affect every aspect of pediatric practice, and you should begin now to understand HIPAA. Over the next 2 years, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will develop summaries and sample materials to help you incorporate these requirements into your practice.

Standardization of electronic transactions in health care will greatly facilitate the sharing of data, raising concerns about how the data will be protected. HIPAA required the first-ever national standards for privacy protections of health information. The privacy rule establishes significant restrictions on the use and release of medical records, describes privacy safeguard standards that must be met, gives patients several important rights, and provides for significant...

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