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The latest excuse: HIPAA made me do it!

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:26pm

Mark Rothstein, chair of a privacy committing advising HSS on HIPAA , said that unnecessary secrecy promoted by HIPAA is a "significant problem." "It’s drummed into them that there are rules they have to follow without any perspective," said Rothstein. "So, surprise, surprise, they approach it in a defensive, somewhat arbitrary and unreasonable way."

Susan McAndrew, of HSS, said "Either innocently or purposefully, entities often use this as an excuse. They say 'HIPAA made me do it' when, in fact, they chose for other reasons not to make the permitted disclosures."

Some dismaying examples:

-Birthday parties in nursing homes in New York and Arizona have been canceled for fear that revealing a resident’s date of birth could be a violation.

-Nurses in an emergency room at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown , Ohio , refused to telephone parents of ailing students themselves, insisting a friend do it, for fear of passing out confidential information, the hospital’s patient advocate said.

-State health departments throughout the country have been slowed in their efforts to create immunization registries for children, according to Dr. James J. Gibson, the director of disease control in South Carolina , because information from doctors no longer flows freely.

These cases were from a recent NY Times article, which also documented instances where adult children caring for elderly relatives were arbitrarily excluded from access to information in life-threatening situations .

Have we forgotten the old age "The road to hell is paved with good intentions?"

[Hat tip to HR Moody, thanks!]

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