Monday, January 03, 2005

Paper named in HIPAA complaint

Well, I suppose it had to happen. The Los Angeles Times and the county health department are named in a federal complaint by those upset at the Times' coverage of what AP delicately calls "lapses in care" at South L.A. hospital (story via First Amendment Center).

The story does not make clear what the Friends of King/Drew expects the feds to do in regard to the stories about the Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center. But this points out the danger of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA. It threatens to effectively put off-limits critical examinations of how our nation's health-care system operates.

Effective examinations mean examining specific cases and determining if they are the rule or the exception.

The county's spokesman says all the patient details were obtained independently by the newspaper.

It's time for Congress to go back to work on HIPAA and make it a reasonable law that protects both the public interest and patient privacy. One wonders how HIPAA would work in the case of a mass disaster here such as we have seen in Asia. It hasn't really been tested under those conditions yet.


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