HIPAA is an acronym for the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act of 1996 (August 21), Public Law 104-191, which amended the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986. Also known as the Kennedy-Kassebaum Act, the Act includes a section, Title II, entitled Administrative Simplification, requiring: Improved efficiency in healthcare delivery by standardizing electronic data interchange, and Protection of confidentiality and security of health data through setting and enforcing standards. More specifically, HIPAA called upon the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publish new rules that will ensure: Standardization of electronic patient health, administrative and financial data Unique health identifiers for individuals, employers, health plans and health care providers Security standards protecting the confidentiality and integrity of &quot;individually identifiable health information,&quot; past, present or future.
The primacy of privacy and confidentiality has been a tenet of America for years. The nature of our work is sensitive and the backlash of violating privacy can be devastating. The U.S. Congress recognized the importance of privacy concerning medical records and enacted the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA).The HIPAA act has changed the way hospitals are permitted to release and communicate patient information to law enforcement agents. The privacy regulations establish that personal health information must be kept confidential. This brochure is a starting point for guidance of law enforcement and others in criminal justice on HIPAA privacy regulations and compliance. We strongly recommend you review this carefully to determine which regulations you must comply with .
Hospitals and law enforcement officers must interact in a way that does not violate the new federal health information privacy regulations. Law enforcement agents, prosecutors, and judges interact with one another on a daily basis due to the nature of their work. There are a few areas in which criminal justice personnel should be familiar with: hospital release of patient information to law enforcement officers; hospital release of information with special protection including communicable diseases, mental health issues, and alcohol and drug abuse treatment information; law enforcement officer presence in hospitals; hospital release of patient property to law enforcement officers: and hospital release of blood and bodily fluid samples. The HIPAA regulations are important in regards to the privacy of the patient and the legalities of criminal or civil cases. The information provided has been developed for guidance and is based on state and federal laws which may change from time to time
The HIPAA rules on hospitals releasing patient information is complicated although the release of property not as complicated. Hospitals, in most cases, require proper documentation such as courts orders, search warrants, or patient permission. If the officer has the required certification they are able request records concerning abuse or in cases of violent crimes. Other exceptions to proper documentation would be in the commission of a crime, relevant to a crime committed on the hospital premises, or preventing serious harm from occurring. In cases of inmates and the safety of other inmates of correctional employees release is often times allowed. HIPAA also allows the release of private information in cases of national security purposes. Property being released often requires proper documentation except plain view and if the patient is under arrest. A bullet retrieved from a patient can be released to the officer without any warrants being provided.
Sensitive information about communicable diseases requires patient authorization, a law authorizing the release or proper documentation such as a court order or search warrant. Mental health information requires patient’s signature or a court order as well unless the individual is sexually violent then the release of information may be disclosed varying from state to state. The requirements for release of information concerning alcohol or drug treatment if there is a court order, patient signature or the individual is a threat.
Law enforcement officers are often present at the hospital due to the nature of their job. They are allowed in hospitals as security personnel or to prevent a suspect from leaving. The law requires they do not disclose any information seen or heard while in the hospital. Asking for interviews or photographs is permitted but the medical care of the individual is priority and the officer should not interfere with the medical care.
The drawing of blood or other body fluids at the request of an officer requires patient consent except under certain circumstances. DUI’s or if the patient is dead or unconscious, consent is not necessary. If there was a traffic accident and a death or serious injury occurred patient consent is not required for the officer to draw blood or obtain consent.
There are many websites with the necessary information on law enforcement and HIPAA.
LEARNING TEAM C Law Enforcement and HIPAA
What is HIPAA <ul><li>The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act enacted by the U.S. Congress </li></ul><ul><li>Improves efficiency in healthcare delivery by standardizing electronic data interchange </li></ul><ul><li>Protects confidentiality and security of health data through setting and enforcing standards </li></ul>
What law enforcement should know about HIPAA <ul><li>HIPAA has changed the way hospitals are allowed to release information </li></ul><ul><li>The privacy regulations established must be kept confidential </li></ul><ul><li>The backlash of violating privacy can be devastating </li></ul>
Areas in which criminal justice personnel should be familiar with <ul><li>Release of Patient Information and Property </li></ul><ul><li>Communicable Diseases, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Law Enforcement Presence at Hospitals </li></ul><ul><li>Release of Blood and Body Fluids </li></ul>
Release of Patient Information & Property to Law Enforcement <ul><li>Proper documentation and/or patient consent is required in most cases </li></ul><ul><li>The exceptions would be cases of abuse, property obtained during commission of a crime, or to prevent serious harm from occurring to individuals </li></ul><ul><li>Documentation is not required in cases of national security. </li></ul>
Release of Information Regarding Communicable Diseases, Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health <ul><li>Patient authorization required in most cases </li></ul><ul><li>Court orders or search warrants must be obtained </li></ul><ul><li>If the individual is a threat the release of information can be secured </li></ul>
Law Enforcement Presence at Hospitals <ul><li>Allowed as security or to prevent a suspect from leaving </li></ul><ul><li>Not allowed to disclose any information they see or overhear while present at the hospital </li></ul><ul><li>While obtaining information or speaking to individuals officers must not interfere with medical care of a patient </li></ul>
Release of Blood or Bodily Fluids <ul><li>In most cases patient consent is required </li></ul><ul><li>DUI of DWI patient consent is not required if the individual is dead or incoherent or harms another individual. </li></ul><ul><li>If during a traffic accident a death or serious injury occurs, patient consent is not required </li></ul>
For more information on HIPAA <ul><li>For more information about HIPAA and law enforcement go to http://www.azhha.org/public/uploads/ACF62EA.pdf </li></ul><ul><li>This presentation only covered basic information in which you should be aware of </li></ul>