An emergency room nurse in Palos Heights, Ill., told Gerard Nussbaum he could not stay with his
father-in-law while the elderly man was being treated after a stroke. Another nurse threatened Nussbaum
with arrest for scanning his relative's medical chart to prove to her that she was about to administer a
dangerous second round of sedatives.
The nurses who threatened him with eviction and arrest both made the same claim, Nussbaum said: that access to his father-in-law and his medical information were prohibited under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Nussbaum, a healthcare and HIPAA consultant, knew better and stood his ground. Nothing in the law
prevented his involvement. But the confrontation drove home the way HIPAA is misunderstood by medical
professionals, as well as the frustrationand even perilthat comes in its wake.
Government studies released in the last few months show the frustration is widespread, an unintended
consequence of the law.
HIPAA was designed to allow Americans to take their health insurance coverage with them when they changed
jobs, with provisions to keep medical information confidential. But new studies have found that some healthcare providers apply HIPAA regulations overzealously, leaving family members, caretakers, public health and law enforcement authorities stymied in their efforts to get information.
Read phcAxNJzde/eDAHwz30UA&oref=slogin" target="_new">more
phcAxNJzde/eDAHwz30UA&oref=slogin" target="_new">more(registration may be required).