New York Times on HIPAA

Keeping Patients’ Details Private, Even From Kin – New York Times

Seriously, what did they expect? A hundreds+ page law by lawyers for lawyers, about medicine, with the threat of major fines, loss of billing abilities, and they wonder why healthcare workers have become close-mouthed? (The executive summary runs 11 18 pages, if that tells you anything).

Read this article, and wonder: their fix for over-caution?

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, a sponsor of the original insurance portability law, was dismayed by the “bizarre hodgepodge” of regulations layered onto it, several staff members said, and by the department’s failure to provide “adequate guidance on what is and is not barred by the law.” To that end, Mr. Kennedy, along with Senator Patrick M. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, plans to introduce legislation creating an office within the Department of Health and Human Services dedicated to interpreting and enforcing medical privacy.

I’m reassured already, and feel this extra layer of scrutiny is just what we need in the trenches to feel better and just trust that our on the spot judgment won’t lead to protracted guilty-until-proven-innocent government investigation.

(An amusing aside: when I had a wireless internet connection the company put the router in a box and padlocked it. This was inside my house. I asked why, and was told, ‘we do a lot of work with the Healthcare industry, and you’re a doc, so we want to make sure there’s no HIPAA violations. I kid you not. HIPAA paranoia isn’t just healthcare workers.)

If they were serious, they’d re-write this abomination to cover actual, major and intentional lapses in privacy, keep the Healthcare Portability provisions that started this, and junk the rest. It hasn’t helped.