Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Editorial: HIPAA horror stories

The Carroll County Star Tribune (Arkansas) has an editorial that rails against the impact of HIPAA on the ability of community newspapers to report on the comings and goings of hospital patients and the ability of police to track down missing persons. Desipte its conclusion, it doesn't really deal with the impact of HIPAA on quality of care:

"Privacy is certainly a good thing, in this age of information technology which threatens our most basic rights, but when heavy-handed laws are enacted which impede the delivery of medical care, we wonder - isn't it time to revisit these laws and repeal those that are obviously not in the best interest of either our health or our privacy?"

Thanks to SANS PrivacyBits for the pointer, which also points to a similar-toned editorial from The Lohnotan Valley News (Fallon, NV):

Consider the case of a California man who died recently after coming down with West Nile virus, the mosquito-borne disease that has been spreading like wildfire in northern Nevada. Citing privacy laws, county health officials would not disclose the nature of the man's disease - even to his brother - until after the patient died. The brother was outraged because he didn't know the man was in a potentially life-threatening situation, but at least his brother's confidentiality wasn't breached.

What started out as a noble attempt to ensure that people who changed jobs didn't automatically lose their health insurance somehow morphed in Congress when senators Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Nancy Kassebaum (R-Kan.) got a hold of it.

Not surprisingly, a movement to repeal this ill-conceived legislation is gaining momentum; the sooner the better as far as we're concerned.

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