Monday, December 20, 2004

Privacy, hospitals and law enforcement

A FOX station in the pacific northwest is carrying the following story:

FOX 12 OREGON Conflict with law enforcement:

"WENATCHEE, Wash. Last spring a Douglas County man shot himself in the hand while cleaning his gun.

He was treated at a hospital that did not report the incident to law enforcement because of privacy law.

Douglas County Sheriff Dan LaRoche heard about it weeks later and said it should have been investigated, although he believes it was an accident.

The incident is an example of how the privacy law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act -- known as HIPAA) can hamper law enforcement.

A spokeswoman for the Washington State Hospital Association, Cassie Sauer, says the year-old law has strained the working relationship between health care workers and police in some areas of the state. (Wenatchee World)"

In Alberta, the Health Information Act allows healthcare providers to tell the cops, but only if the person has not told the hopspital not to: "Doc, don't tell the cops about my seven gunshot wounds."

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