HIPAA A Privacy Law Often Misinterpreted

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HIPAA:A Privacy Law Often Misinterpreted


HIPAA:A Privacy Law Often Misinterpreted

Foryears, hospitals have misinterpreted the HIPAA policy at the expensesof the patients’ wishes due to technical terms used. In July 2013,New York Times reported a case where Manhattan Teaching Hospitaldenied Ms. Levine’s access to her Mr. Green despite the patient’srequest (Span, 2013). After the denial, which Levine refers to as amisunderstanding, she went ahead to comment on the issues as theUnited Hospitals Funds’ Families and Health Care Project Director.

Thearticle examines Levine’s writing after her social experiments toidentify the applicability of HIPAA in private and public healthinstitutions. She observes that, in most cases, the agencies useHIPAA to defend themselves rather than facilitate treatments. In1996, when the USA Congress passed the HIPAA bill, it sought tosafeguard the patients’ information from harmful exposure to thepublic for efficient and controlled medical practices. However, theAct does not prohibit the institutions from sharing such informationwith the family members unless under specific instructions. In Mr.Green’s case, the patient begged the hospital to allow his sisterto accompany him for the treatments but the hospital denied therequest citing HIPAA policy.

Span(2013) posits that the HIPAA policy has specific guidelines on towhen the institution might hold sensitive information from thepatient’s family and next of kin. The policy allows the institutionto release confidential information if the patient is unconscious,delirious, or incapacitated. In such a case, the professionals useinformed judgment to determine whether such a decision would expeditetreatment processes. Summarily, the article indicates themisinterpretation of the HIPAA policy by the health institution andthe rights denied to the patients.


Span&nbspP.(2013, March 27). A Privacy Law Often Misinterpreted – The New YorkTimes.