|By Christinia Crippes, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
Braley sought clarification after the hearing, where
Following HSS guidelines issued Tuesday, Braley said he believes both are possible.
"I firmly believe that we can protect medical privacy and public safety at the same time and will continue my work to strengthen both," Braley said.
The additional guidance comes nearly five years after
The guidance was released as a result of a letter that Braley sent to HHS seeking clarification.
The clarification on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, states that privacy protections are critical but the department recognizes there are times when health information may need to be shared to either ensure the best treatment or for the health and safety of the patient or others.
It states that HIPAA allows providers to:
-- Communicate with family members when a patient is an adult.
-- Communicate with parents when the patient is a minor.
-- Communicate with people involved in the patient's care.
-- Communicate with law enforcement, family or others when a patient presents a "serious and imminent threat" of harm to self or others.
-- Communicate with law enforcement about the release of a patient brought in for emergency psychiatric hold.
-- Consider the patient's capacity to agree or object to the sharing of their information.
The department has previously taken action as a result of the letter, by releasing a pocketbook guide last September to help both law enforcement and health care providers understand when and to what extent the privacy rules permit providers to disclose information to law enforcement.
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