[ Saturday, May 12, 2012 ]


Dr. Zhou Conviction Upheld: I previously noted the conviction of Dr. Huping Zhou, who was convicted of misdemeanor criminal HIPAA violations for improperly accessing the medical records of individuals who weren't his patients, including hosipal administrators who were disciplining him. What was notable was that the prosecution acknowledged that he did not do anything with the information or use it for any personal gain or benefit -- all he did was look. However, that's sufficient to constitute a HIPAA violation: just looking when you shouldn't is enough.

Dr. Zhou appealed, based in part on the fact that he did not know HIPAA prohibited his access to the information. We all know that ignorance of the law is no excuse (and that ignorance is no excuse for the law, but that's a different story), and the 9th circuit agreed. He accessed the information with knowledge, and that's the knowledge component that matters. It doesn't matter that he didn't know the law prohibited it. If he had accidentally accessed the PHI, then he wouldn't have met the first knowledge requirement (knowingly doing the act of accessing).

Via BNA (subscription required).

Jeff [4:50 AM]

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