HIPAA Glossary: Important Definitions of HIPAA Terms

HIPAA Glossary

While reading through the HIPAA regulations you will most likely come across several terms that you think you understand, but mean something different in HIPAA terms. Rather than you having to research each term individually, we have put together a list of important HIPAA terms.

Our HIPAA glossary is a comprehensive list of common terms you will come across while trying to understand the regulation. This HIPAA glossary is meant to clarify regulatory terms with simplified definitions that you don’t need to be a lawyer to understand.

HIPAA Glossary of Terms


Access: (This definition applies to “access” as used in the Privacy and Breach Notification Rules). The means used to retrieve, view, hear, read, write, modify, or communicate information. This information can include records, data, or other system information. 

Access: (This definition applies to “access” as used in the Security Rule). The ability or the means necessary to read, write, modify, or communicate data/information or otherwise use any system resource.  

Accounting of Disclosures of PHI: A report that describes a covered entity‘s disclosures (including those by its business associates) of PHI other than disclosures for treatment, payment, and health care operations; those made with written patient authorization; and certain other disclosures.

Administrative Safeguards: Administrative actions and policies and procedures, that manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of security measures. These measures protect electronic protected health information and create guidelines for protection of that information by employees. 

Administrative Tribunal: An officially appointed or elected individual, judge, or group of those individuals or judges, including those appointed by administrative agencies who conduct hearings and exercise judgment over specific issues.

Agent: An agent of the Organization is determined in accordance with the federal common law of the agency.  The Organization is liable for the acts of its agents. An agency relationship exists if the Organization has the right or authority to control the agent’s conduct in the course of performing a service on behalf of the Organization (i.e. give interim instructions, direct the performance of the service).

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