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HIPAA Identifiers

We follow HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance Protective Health Identifier (PHI) guidelines regarding submissions of creative work, whether they're fiction, art, poetry, media, or nonfiction. Please be sure to proof your work for these 18 identifiers so we can adhere to patients' privacy. Make sure all names and obvious identifiers are changed or omitted.


We understand it can be difficult to strike the right balance between sharing impactful and authentic narratives, and honoring patient privacy, but we also believe that it is absolutely possible to do both. Please see below for a checklist of identifiers.


For more information on HIPAA, please visit

If you have questions about HIPAA or PHI compliance and how it might relate a piece you're considering for submission, please get in touch with the editors.


PHI Identifiers

If your work references any of the across, please edit, omit, or change details in your work to meet HIPAA PHI requirements (please get in touch if you are unsure about which details may pertain to writing about the self).

  1. Names

  2. All geographical subdivisions smaller than a State, including street address, city, county, precinct, zip code, and their equivalent geocodes, except for the initial three digits of a zip code, if according to the current publicly available data from the Bureau of the Census: (1) The geographic unit formed by combining all zip codes with the same three initial digits contains more than 20,000 people; or (2) The initial three digits of a zip code for all such geographic units containing 20,000 or fewer people is changed to 000.

  3. All elements of dates (except year) for dates directly related to an individual, including birth date, admission date, discharge date, date of death; and all ages over 89 and all elements of dates (including year) indicative of such age, except that such ages and elements may be aggregated into a single category of age 90 or older

  4. Phone numbers

  5. Fax numbers

  6. Electronic mail addresses

  7. Social Security numbers

  8. Medical record numbers

  9. Health plan beneficiary numbers

  10. Account numbers

  11. Certificate/license numbers

  12. Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers

  13. Device identifiers and serial numbers

  14. Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs)

  15. Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers

  16. Biometric identifiers, including finger and voice prints

  17. Full face photographic images and any comparable image

  18. Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code (note this does not mean the unique code assigned by the investigator to code the data)

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