[ Tuesday, October 26, 2004 ]


"There's too much privacy, and it's making it hard on everybody." That's the determination of the police in Binghamton, New York, according to this story. It's the sad, familiar tale of the sometimes unfortunate intersection of HIPAA and law enforcement. Generally, common sense will still prevail; there are many reasonable exceptions to general HIPAA privacy where law enforcement is involved. But there certainly are areas of confusion. Hospital personnel, and particularly those involved in the Emergency Department, should be well versed in the law enforcement exceptions, and hospital administrators and privacy officials should work with local law enforcement agencies to make sure everyone is on the same page with what is allowed and what is not.

One important HIPAA feature to keep in mind: HIPAA generally allows disclosures that are required by state law, but preempts state laws that are less protective of privacy. That is an unavoidable inconsistency, and it impacts the law enforcement/healthcare relationship more than any other.

Jeff [10:45 AM]

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