Understanding the Law of Informed Consent and Release of Information
By Colin J. Zick, Partner, Foley Hoag LLP
I am looking forward to my talk at MaHIMA’s Dot Wagg meeting on November 3, “New Developments in Health Information Law, or How to Do Your Job and Not Get Arrested.” The title of my talk is a not-so-veiled reference to the July 26, 2017 videotaped arrest of the head nurse at the University of Utah Hospital’s burn unit, Alex Wubbels, by an over-reaching and over-zealous police officer (who has since been fired).
Before seeing this, we might have all been assuming that not only hospital personnel, but law enforcement, understood the law of informed consent and release of information. But we would be wrong. The police don’t seem to be learning.
It’s now over 20 years since HIPAA became the law of the land. Back in 2006, the online magazine Slate featured an article from an ER physician discussing the dilemma faced by health care providers in such circumstances. So 10 and 20 years after, there is still ignorance or deliberate rejection of patient rights. This raises the larger questions of: i) are we sure we know the law? ii) do we understand how to convey the law to others, even those who are supposed to know and enforce it? and iii) what should be done when a dispute arises?