NRPM: Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. i. Public health authorities.

11/03/1999

We propose to define “public health authority” broadly, based on the function being carried out, not the title of the public entity. Therefore, disclosures under this proposed rule would not be limited to traditional public health entities such as State health departments. Other government agencies and entities carry out public health activities in the course of their missions. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health conduct public health investigations related to occupational health and safety. The National Transportation Safety Board investigates airplane and train crashes in an effort to reduce mortality and injury by making recommendations for safety improvements. Similar inquiries are conducted by the military services. The Food and Drug Administration reviews product performance prior to marketing, and investigates adverse events reported after marketing by industries, health professionals, consumers, and others. The Environmental Protection Agency investigates the effects of environmental factors on health. The definition of public health authority reflects the need for access to data and information including protected health information by these other agencies and authorities consistent with their official mandates under applicable law.