[ Monday, April 23, 2007 ]


Interesting HIPAA case in Illinois: An appeals court ruled that the trial court was not prevented by HIPAA from disclosing the names of patients that were included in the court file of a settlement between a doctor and the hospital that had terminated his privileges. Thomas Coy had sued Washington County Hospital after the hospital had terminated his privileges, and the doctor and hospital settled; the names of non-party patients whose care was apparently involved in the privileges termination were included in the court record, so the lower court sealed the record. Because the hospital is a public hospital, a couple of newspapers sued to have the court record unsealed. The lower court refused on the grounds that HIPAA prevented the trial court from disclosing the information, and the newspapers appealed.

The appelate court said the trial court was not subject to HIPAA, and that once the information was disclosed by the litigants at the courthouse, HIPAA no longer protected the information. However, the court also said that there was a sufficiently strong public interest in not allowing the disclosure, so that the lower court could refuse on public interest grounds even though HIPAA did not apply.

Hat tip: BNA. Opinion here (subscription required).

Jeff [11:03 AM]

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