After citing many examples of how the law is misused, Span sets the record straight:
- The law does not prohibit health care providers from sharing information with family, friends or caregivers unless the patient specifically objects.
- Hipaa applies only to health care providers, health insurers, clearinghouses that manage and store health data, and their business associates. A spouse talking in a public place about her husband’s medical problems or a church publishing the names of hospitalized parishioners are not violating HIPAA.
- Family members can provide information - “‘How does keeping information confidential stop you from listening to someone?’” said Eric Carlson, the directing attorney for Justice in Aging, a legal advocacy group in California. ‘There’s no Hipaa privacy consideration there.’”
- When a caregiver is denied access to medical information, the "caregiver’s strongest defense, …is to be the patient’s personal representative — a health care proxy or guardian, or with power of attorney — or to have the patient authorize the release of information. In such cases, providers must comply."
- An assisted living facility or nursing home can report a death or give someone’s general condition and location, assuming the patient remains within the facility.
Representative Doris Matsui, Democrat of California, hearing complaints about HIPAA from constituents, has introduced legislation to clarify who can divulge what and under what circumstances.
Read the full article here…
Paula Span writes The New Old Age column for the New York Times