[ Tuesday, December 07, 2004 ]


Research and Registry disclosures under HIPAA: If I didn't blog about this earlier, I intended to and never got around to it. There's been a running controversy in California over the ability and/or requirement that hospitals report certain medical information to the state that can be used by the state for cancer tracking and research purposes. State law in California required hospitals to report new cancer cases to the California Department of Health Services and allow data collectors from the Department's Cancer Registry access to the files of those patients, primarily so the patients could be recruited for participation in scientific studies.

After the implementation of the Privacy Rule, several hospitals (including several in the University of California system) balked at providing the information and granting access to the Cancer Registry and its data collectors. The hospitals were concerned that the disclosures would violate HIPAA. The State Department of Health Services had the authority to fine hospitals that did not provide the information. According to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Department and the hospitals have reached an accomodation, and the Cancer Registry data collectors are back at work.

Without studying the California laws requiring the information disclosure, it would look like these disclosures would be a "required by law" disclosure of the type specifically authorized under 164.512(a) or (b). To alleviate the hospitals' concerns, the Department agreed that patients would not be contacted for six weeks after initial diagnosis, in order to insure that the patient had the opportunity to learn of the diagnosis from the care provider and/or process the news.

Jeff [11:28 AM]

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