[ Monday, February 04, 2008 ]


We'll always have Paris, Texas: I posted a while ago about Paris (Texas) Regional Medical Center's suit against an anonymous (psuedonymous, actually) blogger who was badmouthing the hospital. The claims were that PHI was being disclosed in the blog posts in violation of HIPAA, and that the information came from employees of the hospital who were under contractual obligations not to spread the information. The hospital sued the internet service provider where the blog was posted, but the ISP (nobly) resisted and sought a restraining order to prevent the court and PRMC from forcing the disclosure. The trial court said the blogger had to be unmasked, but as Greg Piche at Holland & Hart has noted, the appellate court found that the blogger could maintain his secrecy.

This issue is particularly interesting to folks like me, Greg and Bob Coffield (who heads-upped me this weekend with the latest in the story), since it deals with healthcare and blogging. Last week I had a medblogging nurse inquire about whether her postings might violate HIPAA. There is a potential issue whenever medical information is used in a posting, which is often the case when blogging is about hospitals or doctors. But the hospital here didn't really show that there was a HIPAA violation (what I saw looked like personal disclosures by people about their own care, which wouldn't violate HIPAA), and it seems pretty clear that they were just trying to shut up a vocal critic. Generally, it's pretty counterproductive to try to bully an unseen enemy with a megaphone.

Jeff [11:12 AM]

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