How HIPAA Handcuffs Parents of Mentally Ill and what to do about it. (PDF)
Additional frustration about privacy laws stems from lack of understanding.
As a result of real and perceived HIPAA handcuffs, families of the mentally ill are given the responsibility to provide care for their loved ones are not given the information or authority to do it.
Treatment providers should have complete discretion to reveal to family members, caregivers, law enforcement or potential victims any clinical information that is necessary or helpful in managing that patient's care in a community to which the patient belongs.
The latter concern can be addressed by making it clear that the provider is not liable for failing to make the disclosure in those instances where the threat is not serious or imminent and the disclosure would, in the provider's good faith judgment, interfere with the ability to render effective care.
HIPAA should include “safe harbor” provisions.
The provisions should insulate a person or organizationfrom liability (or loss of funding) for making a disclosure with a good faith belief thatthe disclosure was necessary to protect the health, safety, or welfare of the person involved or members of the general public.
Laws protecting good-faith disclosure for health, safety, and welfare can help combat any biastoward nondisclosure.
Remove the HIPAA rule that prohibits treatment providers from releasing threatening information to potential victims or to law enforcement unless the threat is both "serious and imminent."
HIPAA rules for front line providers should be short, simple and memorable.
While the right to privacy is important, it must be balanced with society's obligation to provide effective care to the mentally ill in the least restrictive setting. Current HIPAA rules -- written by obsessive civil libertarians -- prevent well meaning providers from rendering effective care and, worse still, create constant, real and present dangers to our society.
Prepared by Mental Illness Policy Org., with appreciation to Peter Mills, Former State Legislator, Maine
The information on Mental Illness Policy Org. is not legal advice or medical advice. Do not rely on it. Discuss with your lawyer or medical doctor. Mental Illness Policy Org was founded in February 2011 and recently received 501(c)(3) status. In order to maintain independence MIPO does not accept any donations from companies in the health care industry or government. That makes us dependent on the generosity of people who care about these issues. If you can support our work, please send a donation to Mental Illness Policy Org., 50 East 129 St., Suite PH7, New York, NY 10035. Thank you. For more information, http://mentalillnesspolicy.org.