Last week, I posted a news item about how medical ID theft victims were getting victimized twice – once by the criminal and once by those hospitals that interpret HIPAA as barring them from showing patients their own records if they contain information on another patient – even if that patient is the ID thief. As a result of such refusals, patients have no way to determine and correct incorrect information that could lead to health care problems.
At least one member of Congress is taking this seriously. Isaac Wolf of Scripps Howard News Service reports:
A Catch-22 that keeps victims of medical identity theft from seeing and fixing false — and potentially harmful — health records created in their names needs to be fixed, the top Democrat on a House health subcommittee said Tuesday.
Rep. Frank Pallone, N.J., ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s health subcommittee, said Tuesday he is working to alter a federal law that hospitals have used to keep medical identity theft victims from accessing and correcting inaccurate files left by impostors.
Hospital industry officials say federal privacy rules prevent them from allowing ID theft victims to obtain the records left by fraudsters.
Read more in The Republic.
Personally, I don’t think the hospitals are using common sense or applying HIPAA properly, but of course, the fear of litigation is so pervasive in our country that I can understand them being afraid to do the right and sensible thing for fear of a lawsuit. If this can be resolved by HHS simply issuing a guidance or clarification, that might be the fastest way to remedy this problem.