Part 2: Basic Patient Rights (FAQ 26 of 65)
Right to Request Confidential Communications
26. How Do I Exercise the Right to Receive a Confidential Communication?
A provider may require you to make a written request to receive a confidential communication in writing. Read the notice of privacy practices to find out the local procedure. In a small office, an oral request may be sufficient. Still, if you orally tell the receptionist not to call you at your office, the doctor may not know about your request. A written request may be safer because it creates a formal record of the request. You should keep a copy of your written request.
The rule says that a provider must permit a patient to make a request, but it does not expressly say that the provider must respond at all or in writing. However, a provider must agree to a reasonable request. You would be well advised to ask for a written acknowledgement and to save the acknowledgement. If you only receive an oral response, you might want to send a written confirmation to the provider, and keep a copy of your confirmation. The written confirmation should summarize the request and identify the person who agreed to comply. Ask the provider to respond if the summary is incorrect.
You do not have to tell the provider why you made the request. Indeed, the rule expressly prohibits a provider from requiring an explanation as a condition of fulfilling the request. However, the rule does not prohibit the provider from asking for you reason. You don't have to disclose your reason if you don't want to.