Guidance on Contacting COVID-19 Patients to Request Blood and Plasma Donations

HIPAA Journal

When patients contract an infectious respiratory disease such as COVID-19, the immune system develops antibodies that provide protection if the pathogen is encountered again. The antibodies in the blood of patients who recover from such an illness are valuable, as not only will they provide protection for the patient, that protection could potentially be transferred to other patients.

Through the donation of blood and plasma two preparations can be made: Convalescent plasma and hyperimmune immunoglobulin. Convalescent plasma and hyperimmune immunoglobulin have both been used to successfully treat patients who have contracted other viral respiratory diseases. Given the severity of COVID-19 and the high mortality rate, these treatments could be vital for patients who are struggling to fight the infection. Research studies are now underway to test whether antibody treatments are effective against COVID-19.

To participate in these programs, patients who have previously been diagnosed with COVID-19 will need to be contacted and asked if they are willing to donate blood and plasma, but is this contact permitted by the HIPAA Privacy Rule?

On June 12, 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights issued...

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