Emergency Communications and HIPPA regs

Started by WA4STO, November 06, 2012, 06:11:42 pm

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WA4STO

Back when my whole life seemed to revolve around ham radio emergency communications, I never would have envisioned this exchange of commentary...



Here's a note from n2nov from NY and a very pertinent statement from a prominent doctor in NYC regarding our seemingly endless debate and concern over HIPPA during emergency and disaster communications.

-Dave, KB3FXI

----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Charles J. Hargrove <n2nov@nyc-arecs.org>
To: NBEMSham@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 4:37 PM
Subject: RE: [NBEMSham] Re: NBEMS during Sandy ?


And this from a doctor in our group who is a department head of a major NYC
hospital:

I agree with Alan that this situation seems to be a gross overextension of the
intended purpose of HIPAA. But I would add that this type of HIPAA panic
question is likely to arise in situations where it might be impossible to have
timely access to an "authority" on HIPAA who could definitively clear up the
question. And, during a disaster there might be times when someone might WANT
actual potentially-protected health information to be transmitted. As
physicians are able to disclose protected information to third parties with a
patient's written permission, disaster relief communications workers should be
able to protect themselves (if they perceive such protection to be necessary)
by getting a signed disclosure authorization.

Since the original poster on this topic actually requested the information to
be transmitted, there would seem to be a de facto disclosure authorization in
place, but if disaster communications workers are concerned about these
issues, or the possibility of an unintended third party intercepting a
communication, then a simply-worded disclosure authorization should be
protective. In my opinion this is excessive, and I would not myself be
concerned about wasting time with even more paperwork in a disaster, but if
someone is really worried about this, it should be easily addressed by using a
disclosure authorization.

Michael

> Why is there confusion with HIPPA? It is only for keeping confidential any
> identifying information of a MEDICAL nature. The person that refused to
> take the message, as well as their supervisors, need retraining. This has
> to stop.
>
> During a disaster, any means of communications for a non-medical nature is
> fine. Heck, I would doubt that anyone would be sued (heaven forbid a land
> shark attack) if open comms were the only remaining means of getting the
> medically related information out.

--

raybiker73

I believe it was Shakespeare who said, "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Whoever said it should have been given a medal.

gil

Hello Luck,

Maybe you could post what HIPPA actually is, I have no idea, and guessing some hospital/patient privacy thing...

Gil.

White Tiger

Quote from: gil on November 06, 2012, 10:34:20 pm
Hello Luck,

Maybe you could post what HIPPA actually is, I have no idea, and guessing some hospital/patient privacy thing...

Gil.


Health Insurance Portability Act

Until ObamaCare - health insurance in this country has been delivered via the employer. If you lost your job, or took another job, some insurers denied coverage of any conditions that were being treated during the timeframe. Also, the insurer of the new employer (if you got another job) didn't have to cover you because it was a pre-existing condition...rendering you in-insurance for a time being and in some states.

Ostensibly, the above act allowed the owner of the insurance policy to maintain his policy - regardless of job status, and at his (or her) own expense.

However - as is the case with most government answers to problems they create - there are a LOT of "devils" in the details...one part of the law said that ONLY the patient and the doctor can be made aware of ANY medical information (unless of course it is the government asking for the information). Your spouse, children, etc., also could not be told anything about your medical conditions - beyond the basics - and only if you were incapacitated....

So, reading what Luck posted, and the link to the law (and brief description of what it was implemented to address) can you decipher why the ham radio operator was incredulous that someone refused to transmit a message concerning care during an emergency?

Me either.
If you're looking for me, you're probably looking in the wrong place.

KC9TNH

I think (but do not know) there is a distinction between storage of personal medical information, and transmission of same when in the clear to resolve an emergent medical issue. Otherwise, there are alot of clear VHF EMS and LE entities in violation, which I suspect is not the case. Dispatch notifies LE and simultaneously pages EMS. The officer is highly likely to still be first on scene & will have received personal medical info over the radio already, if nothing else as to nature of call, as will EMS once they're rolling. Further, EMS will be in contact with the receiving ER on their freq while enroute.

This may be an apples/oranges thing. Like comparing the right to free speech with the "right" to a free cellphone.
::)

deanathpc

Being in EMS I can tell you that HIPPA is a pain in the arse.

It's such a touchy subject still. I don't understand half of it.

Basically we can't discuss anything about the patient to anyone except those who are in direct contact with them.  Also any documentation with any identifying info has to be protected.  If not needed it needs to be shredded.  Things like a social security number is starred out on our demographic sheets when printed.  Which makes billing a nightmare.

Dispatchers can say the name on the air while dispatching but we can't when calling in a report to the hospital.  Still do not understand that one.

Dean

cockpitbob

Quote from: deanathpc on November 09, 2012, 01:35:10 pm
Being in EMS I can tell you that HIPPA is a pain in the arse.

It's such a touchy subject still. I don't understand half of it.

Basically we can't discuss anything about the patient to anyone except those who are in direct contact with them.  Also any documentation with any identifying info has to be protected.  If not needed it needs to be shredded.  Things like a social security number is starred out on our demographic sheets when printed.  Which makes billing a nightmare.

Dispatchers can say the name on the air while dispatching but we can't when calling in a report to the hospital.  Still do not understand that one.

Dean
There's nothing to understand.  The law was written by idiots under the dome in D.C.  It's that simple.  Our elected representatives are incompetent at their jobs.