Over-applying and misapplying HIPAA is common

Most professionals would agree that, when used judiciously, HIPAA regs can have some benefit. But it seems there's a great deal of confusion out there among clinical staffers as to what does and doesn't constitute a HIPAA violation, according to a new analysis. HIPAA language says providers may share medical information with others--unless the patient objects. But given their confusion, many health workers apply the rules in a "defensive, somewhat arbitrary and unreasonable way," says Mark Rothstein, chairman of a HHS subcommittee advising the agency on privacy.

Critics say nurses, who often are on the front line when communicating with patients, are seldom trained well enough when it comes to applying the law. And that has created something of a smokescreen for providers who don't care to ferret out medical information. In fact, some nurses and other healthcare professionals use HIPAA as an excuse not to take the time to dig up records they should be sharing, critics say.

To find out more about this trend:
- read this article in The New York Times (reg. req.)

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