[ Thursday, June 16, 2005 ]


Interesting cases with HIPAA implications: the Colorado supreme court ruled that it was an error for the lower court to order a blanket release of all of a personal injury plaintiff's medical records. The defense asked for the blanket release, and the plaintiff objected, saying the defense was asking for more than was necessary to defend plaintiff's claims. The lower court said that the plaintiff had waived the patient/physician privilege by bringing her health condition into the case (since it's a personal injury, the plaintiff's medical/health condition is a big part of the case itself). The supreme court said that the blanket release was too much, and should have been limited to those parts of plaintiff's medical record that had an impact on her claim. Unrelated medical information should not be disclosed.

In another case (Rogers v. NYU Hospitals Center, N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 119446/03, unpublished order 5/13/05), a NY court said that a hospital had to disclose the name of the plaintiff's hospital roommate. The plaintiff wanted the hospital to tell him who was in the other bed in his hospital room, presumably so that plaintiff could do some discovery and potentially find a witness. The hospital refused to release the name, claiming it was PHI under HIPAA. The court found that the name of the roommate, at least by itself, was not IIHI. I disagree; the name of an individual, identified as a patient at a hospital, is IIHI and is almost always PHI. It's the barest of IIHI, but it's still individually identifiable health information.

Hat tip: Alan Goldberg.

Jeff [5:10 PM]

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