More on HIPAA

6

Category : Medical Rants

To clarify the story that I related. I personally called security who made the interpretation that they could not call the police.

In retrospect, I believe that I had a civic duty to personally call, or have someone else call the police anonymously.

I suspect that hospital security misinterpreted HIPAA.

Most of the HIPAA misinterpretations are made by hospital lawyers. Apparently the law is confusing to them, so imagine us naive health care workers.

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Comments (6)

I agree with you on the civic duty. My belief is that hospital lawyers are always concerned first and foremost with avoiding lawsuits filed against the hospital, but any sensible citizen would want a felon recognized by staff to do what you did.

My attorney wife developed the HIPAA guidelines for use in her specialty for our state. What she found was the willingness of people at all levels, to say no to information releases, thus eliminating even the remotest possibility of a legal suit.

Sadly, when dealing with family issues, or in this case safety issues, people seem unable to use a little common sense.

Steve Lucas

I’ve never before appreciated the dilemmas presented to medical staff when caring for felons before reading this blog post. Actually, before reading the medical blogs, I’d never appreciated how much medical people have to deal with beyond their medical jobs. I’m kinda old: my mother and her sisters were all RNs and a brother and many cousins were doctors of different specialities. Did they, I wonder, have to grapple with these sorts of issues? If so, I never heard them talk about it.

I’d say the answer is here:

http://www.hhs.gov/hipaafaq/permitted/law/505.html

From my read, seems to me if the patient is wanted by the police, you’re allowed to disclose information.

for fear of sounding like a complete idiot, but what is hipaa? i assume it’s something about criminals.

It sounds like your security officers either grossly misinterpreted the HIPAA statute or perhaps they just didn’t want to be bothered with it.

At my own facility people who make themselves known to security, using a false name at registration or stealing supplies is a good way to get their attention, will have their names checked for outstanding warrants and if one comes back they are detained and held for the city police. This place being where it is, more often than not the police won’t show up and they’ll eventually release the individual.

I recall on time a man presented to triage and confessed to a murder. It wasn’t a medical problem and security was notified to deal with it. I don’t think that there is any assumption of privacy with non-health related information.

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