Skip to main content

Home Protected health information

Protected health information

Protected health information definition 

Protected health information (PHI) refers to information in a medical record that can be used to identify an individual. PHI is usually protected by government laws and regulations, such as HIPAA in the United States, and non-compliance can result in significant legal and financial penalties.

See also: Sensitive information, GDPR

Common types of protected health information

1. Names. Full names or last names in combination with initials are considered PHI when linked with other health information.

2. Geographical identifiers. Usually, any part of an address smaller than a state, such as a street address, city, county, or zip code, is considered PHI. 

3. Dates. Dates directly related to an individual, their birth, admission, discharge, and death. 

4. Phone numbers. Telephone numbers that are linked to the individual.

6. Email addresses. Email addresses can contain identifiers that make them PHI when linked to health information.

7. Social security numbers. One of the most sensitive types of PHI. 

8. Medical record numbers. Specific identifiers that can be used to pull up personal health records.

9. Health insurance beneficiary numbers. These numbers can reveal information about health insurance claims and related medical information.