Providence police, hospitals at odds in medical privacy debate

Amanda Milkovits has a great report on the thorny intersection between law enforcement, state medical privacy laws, and HIPAA:

A judge in a murder trial in June wanted to see the medical records of a woman whose husband was charged with killing her.

Rhode Island Hospital’s records department rejected the court order –– and answered the subsequent subpoena by saying the law allowed 20 days to respond.

A Providence detective investigating an alleged murder requested the medical records of the victim, who died at Rhode Island Hospital. In his request for the records in March 2010 — nearly two years after the death –– the detective included a copy of the victim’s death certificate, plus two signed releases from the man’s father and adult son.

Rhode Island Hospital refused.

In March, the Providence police wanted to know if a man who’d been shot was still alive, before the suspect accused of shooting him was released on bail. If the victim was dead, the suspect would be held for murder.

Rhode Island Hospital wouldn’t say whether the wounded man existed.

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