Society of Professional Journalists – HIPAA Medical Privacy Regulations Go Into Effect April 14: Are You Ready?
On Monday, April 14, an important new set of federal regulations intended to protect the privacy of Americans' personal health and medical information will go into effect. These new rules also will make it harder for journalists to follow up on victims of accidents, disease outbreaks or other community traumas.
The rules are known as the “Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information” rules and were required by Congress as part of a federal law called HIPAA (Health Information Portability and Accountability Act) passed in 1996.
For the record, SPJ was among those who asked the Department of Health and Human Services to make the rules recognize the media's important role in informing communities about traumas and their impacts on individuals. We specifically asked that general information about patients be made available if it's connected to a public record — a police accident or crime report, for instance, or a fire department call.
Our comments were ignored and the rules make no mention of the media's role or of the importance of informing communities in certain circumstances. [Privacy Digest]