How HIPAA harms patients

Stories of how strict following of HIPAA regulations interferes with patient care:

Although it started as a good idea, HIPAA has gotten out of control. A nursing student was reprimanded for violating the privacy act after she was seen reviewing her very own medical record. A health department representative refused to disclose to a newspaper the number of influenza cases in the county, incorrectly citing that it would be a HIPAA violation.

When the paramedics have completed care and transport of an extremely sick patient, they often want to know the outcome. They want to know if they did everything correctly. Hospitals and EMS agencies have procedures in place that allow this information to be passed in compliance with HIPAA. According to the act’s regulations, “sharing information for treatment or health care operations is not a violation of HIPAA.” Yet, often I am prevented from getting this information by staff members who are misinformed about the privacy act, and fear for their jobs if they should release the information.