Review states that HIPAA interferes with patient care

The following excerpt is from an article at A review of the various effects the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has had on the medical industry and patients. While patients appreciate the stronger privacy protection, the medical community has found that compliance with the new law can interfere with patient care.

Personally, I can relate to these findings. A few months ago, a good friend of mine had a heart attack and was hospitalized for several days. I was visiting him on the 3rd day of his hospital stay when a hospital administrator approached him. She asked him several HIPAA related questions and asked him to sign various wavers. For example: Can the hospital disclose his personal information to friends and family members? Or, Can the doctors discuss his medical treatments and condition with family members and friends? Now, keep in mind that he had been on morphine and various other drugs since he was admitted and just finished an angioplasty procedure at this point in time. While I thought it was terribly inappropriate to ask him these questions while he was in no way cognisant enough to make such a decision, I asked myself when would be an appropriate time? Should they stop treating his pain long enough to let him sign the HIPAA wavers? Would that be humane? How else would he reach an informed decision? And where does the line for protection of personal privacy become unrealistic and/or ridiculous?

As a privacy and security researcher, I cannot agree with the hospitals actions in this matter. I realize that there will be continued resistance, compromises, and inconvenience in the pursuit of protecting our individual privacy; but if we don’t persist, we surely cannot progress.

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