Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ohio HIPAA Preemptions Decision on Patient-Physician Privilege

Interesting HIPAA preemption appellate decision out of Ohio finding that the Ohio physician-patient privilege statute preempts HIPAA since it provides greater protection to patient privacy.

The decision in Grove v. Northeast Ohio Nephrology Associates (Ohio Ct. App., Nos. 22594, 22585, 12/26/2005), involved a malpractice claim for damages where the plaintiff was injured in a car accident by a patient who had just had dialysis treatment at the facility. The claim asserted that the dialysis provider was negligent in letting the patient drive following treatment and sought the non-party medical records of the patient. The dialysis provider objected to producing the records relying on Ohio's patient-physician privilege statute.

Most interesting out of this decision is the fact that the dialysis provider could have provided the information under HIPAA since a court order had been issued requiring the production of the information. The decision highlights that the court order exception allowing disclosure under HIPAA without patient authorization is not a mandatory provision. The HIPAA court order provision states that a provider "may" disclose protected health information pursuant to a court order -- but does not say must disclose.

For more information on the decision and summary analysis of the decision check out the HIPAA Blog. Thanks to the HIPAA Blog for the tip on this decision.

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