Health Information Management

News about NFL player's surgery may pose HIPAA violation for hospital

HIM-HIPAA Insider, July 13, 2015

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The New York Giants reportedly didn’t even know their defensive-end Jason Pierre-Paul had one of his fingers amputated before his medical charts appeared in news reports July 8, but that’s a story for another audience.

ESPN reporter Adam Schefter isn’t in trouble for posting a picture on Twitter of what looks like Pierre-Paul’s medical chart—journalists aren’t covered by HIPAA—but staff members at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and the hospital itself could be facing some stiff sanctions for releasing the records to a reporter.

Unless Pierre-Paul were to authorize release of his record, the only people allowed to look at it are medical professionals directly involved in treatment, payment, or operations (TPO) related to providing his care. If he felt his privacy rights were violated and wished to lodge a complaint, he’d have to file with OCR within 180 days of the alleged disclosure.

Jackson Health System, for its part, responded via its own Twitter account shortly after Schefter’s revelatory tweets, stating that HIPAA laws prevent hospitals from disclosing health information or medical records on patients without the person’s consent.

“Jackson Health System takes patient privacy seriously and aggressively investigates any alleged violation,” the health system wrote.

Pierre-Paul reportedly had his right index finger amputated during an operation at the hospital and needed skin grafts for his right arm. ESPN reported he was admitted with serious injuries to his hand, which he suffered while setting off fireworks at a Fourth of July celebration.

The Washington Post reminds us the UCLA Health System was hit with close to $1 million in fines in 2011 for some nosy hospital staff who merely looked at celebrity patients’ medical records. One of the employees did, however, plead guilty to a felony charge after she was caught selling one celebrity’s records to the National Enquirer.

This article appeared on HCPro’s HIPAA Update blog. Stay up to date on all things HIPAA by signing up for e-mail updates from this blog.

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