A Privacy Law Often Misinterpreted

Paul Spahn writes:

… Hipaa (sic) protects the patient, not the institution or the provider. And the patient can informally agree to share her health care information with her family, with friends, with anyone she chooses.

The act doesn’t limit that disclosure to “next of kin,” a phrase fading from use, or to the person who serves as her health care proxy. It doesn’t require that she agree in writing, though an individual institution may insist on that.

“If the patient tells the physician, ‘I want you to talk to Jerry when he shows up,’ that’s sufficient,” said Charles Sabatino, director of the American Bar Association Commission on Law and Aging, who has also heard of Hipaa abuses. “The perception of the law is a lot more full of fear than the reality.”

Read more in the New York Times.

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