Friday, February 16, 2007

Harry and HIPAA

Now for those of you who have ever had occasion to do research at the IN archives recently you know that the place is staffed with wonderful helpful people. Until you request to see the medical file from Harry's stay a Central State (the state mental institution). When you request to see that file you will meet with the proverbial brick wall!

Now the IN Public Records Act states that confidential information, with the exception of adoption records. is available to the public after 75 years. Harry's Central State records should have been available around 1996. Nope. If you request the records now and you are not a relative, then you will be told that those records are not available to the public because of HIPAA.

Now for those of you who don't know The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule is the first comprehensive Federal protection for the privacy of personal health information. Well here's my beef. I deal with HIPAA every day and I do understand some of the nuances of the law. What I don't understand is how the archives can stretch that law to deal with individuals who have been dead 72 years! The dead don't have privacy issues. Since members of Harry's immediate family are also dead (may be a nephew living in AL, but no spouses, children, parents, or siblings) I think applying HIPAA to his records is more than a stretch.

Only one thing to do...write Health & Human Services and get a ruling as to whether the archives is correct in their assessment. I wish I was as dedicated in my professional life as I am in my hobby life!

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