ROOTS-L ArchivesArchiver > ROOTS > 2002-08 > 1030800018
From: "Diane C. Russell" <>
Subject: [ROOTS-L] Death records threatened
Date: Sat, 31 Aug 2002 09:20:18 -0400
Over on the Archives and Archivists List, there has been a discussion in
recent weeks about the federal Health Information Personal Privacy Act
(HIPPA). Some commentators fear that HIPPA could require all states to close
all medical and death records FOREVER, even old records from the 18th and 19th
centuries that are currently open.
Sample message follows:
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 08:06:47 -0500
From: "Scott, Paul (FPM)" <>
Subject: Release of Info on "Terminally Inconvenienced" Persons,
Redux (a. k.a. HIPAA)
Nearly three weeks ago there was a flurry of messages on HIPAA's
implications for the archival community. Two days ago I attended an
introductory seminar on HIPAA given by Harris County's Office of Risk
Management. (The fact that a large, urban county considers HIPAA a risk to
be managed should give us all pause.)
Before the meeting I submitted questions asking how HIPAA would affect
access to long-open records such as Justice of the Peace Inquest Records,
Medical Examiner Autopsies, welfare records (which often comment upon a
subject's health), and court case files (that often include medical records
proving debts and damages).
Tellingly, the presenter read my questions to the audience and announced
that they would have to be referred to an outside attorney. She did state
at various points in her presentation that:
1. HIPAA explicitly gives corpses privacy rights.
2. HIPAA does apply to paper-based as well as electronic documents.
3. Neither the Act nor the regulations proposed under it have any
expiration provision that would permit the release of Protected Health
Information (PHI) when it reaches a certain age.
4. When HIPAA goes into effect on April 14, 2003 it will apply
5. HIPPA regulations closing records will trump state laws that specifically
open the same records.
6. Violators can be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
7. The only piece of good news is that there is an exemption for litigation
that will probably keep civil and criminal case files open even if they do
contain medical records.
Since the Proposed Rules will not go in effect until April 14 and are still
open for public comment it is not yet too late to request some commonsense
changes and exemptions. Does any one know if SAA or any other organization
plans to submit comments?
Paul R. Scott
Records Management Officer
Harris County, TX
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|[ROOTS-L] Death records threatened by "Diane C. Russell" <>|