DPH clarifies authority to request patient data for contact tracing

The Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) has issued a letter to address its COVID-19 contact tracing program – stressing that it is “concerned about privacy and the security of personal health information” and that it “does have the legal authority to request [a patient’s] personal health information, including [their] contact information. Under Georgia law, [DPH] is authorized to gather information, including personal health information, to protect the health and safety of Georgia citizens.”

DPH adds that, “The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) also allows [physicians] to share [their] clients’ personal health information with [DPH]…”

And DPH emphasizes that, “Widespread testing and contact tracing are two of the most powerful tools we have to identify outbreaks and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.”

DPH has “deployed more than 1,300 contact tracers statewide…”

DPH contract tracing program letter