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HIPAA Provision Commonly Misunderstood

HEALTHCARE PRIVACY—U.S.

March 28, 2013

The New York Times highlights one patient’s account of a HIPAA-related incident to illustrate ways in which the law is misunderstood. The woman’s sister was not allowed to accompany her to an examining room, despite her pleas to the contrary. However, HIPAA “doesn’t prevent healthcare professionals from sharing relevant information with family members unless the patient specifically objects,” writes Paula Span. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is investigating allegations that a Pennsylvania 911 dispatch center shared information protected under HIPAA with a former police chief via e-mail. The current police chief says the breach extends beyond a singular case and individuals wrongly had access to the call database. (Registration may be required to access this story.)
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