Monday, January 10, 2005

WA state hospital association calls for uniform and more relaxed interpretation of HIPAA

The Washington State Hospital Association's Board of Trustees is asking the state's hospitals to adopt a more uniform and relaxed interpretation of HIPAA to ease information sharing with family members:

Patient privacy rules may relax: "The Washington State Hospital Association Board of Trustees passed a resolution last month asking hospitals to adopt a uniform policy allowing family members and friends to find loved ones while still maintaining federal patient privacy laws.

The association issued the recommendation after an advocacy group demanded a better system. Members were frustrated by officials at local hospitals who wouldn't disclose information about their hospitalized loved ones.

'HIPAA is a little unclear,' said Cassie Sauer, spokeswoman for Washington State Hospital Association. 'It was being implemented with great variation across the state. Family members who couldn't get information were freaked out and really mad.'

HIPAA - the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act - was passed by Congress to protect patient privacy by preventing hospitals from releasing confidential patient information. It was intended to protect patients from having their records sold to pharmaceutical companies, for example, that might specialize in treating their particular illnesses...."

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