Email guidelines for patients

Risks of Using E-mail

There are certain risks inherent in e-mail communication including, but not limited to the following:

  • E-mail can be circulated, forwarded and stored in numerous paper and electronic files
  • E-mail can be immediately broadcast worldwide and received by intended and unintended parties;
  • E-mails can be easily misaddressed;
  • E-mails are easier to falsify than handwritten or signed documents;
  • Backup copies of e-mails may exist even if deleted by sender or recipient;
  • Employers/on-line services have a right to archive and inspect e-mails transmitted by their system;
  • E-mails can be used to introduce viruses into computer systems;
  • E-mails can be used as evidence in court.

Conditions for the Use of E-mail

The Health Care Provider (Provider) will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of e-mail information sent and received. However, the Provider cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of e-mail communications and will not be liable for improper disclosure of confidential information that is not caused by the Provider’s intentional misconduct. Patients who chose to utilize e-mail to contact a Provider agree to the following conditions:

  • E-mail communication will be conducted using only UWM e-mail accounts.
  • All e-mails to and from the patient will be printed out and made part of the patient’s medical record. Because they are part of the medical record, other individuals authorized to access the medical record, such as staff and billing personnel, will have access to those e-mails.
  • Provider may forward e-mails internally to Provider’s staff and agents as necessary. Provider will not, however, forward e-mails to independent third parties without the patient’s prior written consent, except as authorized or required by law.
  • Although the Provider will endeavor to read and respond promptly to an e-mail from the patient, the Provider cannot guarantee that any particular e-mail will be read and responded to within any particular time. Thus, the patient shall not use e-mail for medical emergencies or other time-sensitive matters. (Note that some Norris Health Center Providers serve in a part-time capacity.)
  • If the patient’s e-mail requires or invites a response from the Provider, and the patient has not received a response within a reasonable amount of time, it is the patient’s responsibility to follow up to determine whether the intended recipient received the e-mail and when the recipient will respond.
  • The patient should not use e-mail for communication regarding sensitive medical information such as information regarding sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS/HIV, mental health, developmental disability or substance abuse.
  • The Provider will not, in general, use e-mail to communicate laboratory or other test results, nor will give medical advice or other specific medical information using e-mail.
  • The patient is responsible for informing the Provider of any types of information the patient does not want to be sent by e-mail in addition to the conditions mentioned above.
  • The patient is responsible for protecting his/her password or other means of access to e-mail. The Provider is not liable for breaches of confidentiality caused by the patient or any third party.
  • It is the patient’s responsibility to follow up and or schedule an appointment if warranted.


To communicate by e-mail, the patient shall:

  • Use only his/her UWM e-mail account;
  • Inform the Provider of e-mail address;
  • Include patient name in the body of the e-mail;
  • Include the category of the communication in the e-mail’s subject line for routing purposes (e.g. billing, question, etc.);
  • Review the e-mail to make sure it is clear and that all relevant information is provided before sending to Provider;
  • Confirm receipt of e-mail to Provider;
  • Take precautions to preserve the confidentiality of e-mails, such as using screen savers and safeguarding his/her computer password;
  • Withdraw consent only by e-mail or written communication to Provider.