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New Medical Privacy Rules Take Effect
- April 15th, 2003
The first federal law that guarantees medical privacy, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, has gone into effect. The new rules--which culminate a decade-long drive to overhaul the way doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, health care providers and others handle patient information--prohibit disclosure, without patient permission, of information for reasons unrelated to health care.
"This is the biggest thing to hit the health care sector since Medicare," says Dr. Jeffrey N. Hausfeld, an ear, nose and throat doctor in the Washington, D.C., area.
The rules were first written by the Clinton administration. The Bush administration weakened them before allowing them to take effect. See ElderLawAnswers news article, "Patient Advocates Critical of Bush's Final Medical Privacy Rules", Aug. 15, 2002.
The rules bar doctors and hospitals from giving out patient information to third parties for marketing purposes or to employers to use in making decisions about such things as promotions, unless a patient specifically agrees. Health care companies may not disclose information beyond what is minimally necessary to deliver care.
When their medical privacy is violated, patients may file complaints with the Department of Health and Human Services, which can then pursue criminal penalties, including a $250,000 fine and 10 years in prison for the most serious offenses.
Among the ways the new rules will change practices: callers to hospitals will be able to get little, if any, information about sick friends or relatives, pharmacists will discuss drug side-effects with customers away from other customers, and patient diagnoses will no longer be on sign-in forms at the doctor''s office.
Local Elder Law Attorneys in Ashburn, VA
Margaret A. O'Reilly, PC
Margaret A. O’Reilly is an estate planning and elder law attorney with over thirty-five years of legal experience. Attorney O’Reilly graduated from Duke University with a degree in psychology, and received her law degree from Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts. For over 15 y...
Farr Law Firm
In practice since 1987, Fairfax Attorney Evan Farr is widely recognized as one of the leading Elder Law, Estate Planning, and Specials Needs attorneys in Virginia and one of foremost experts in the Country in the field of Medicaid Asset Protection and related Trusts. Evan Farr has been quoted or cited as an expert by n...