A recent Washington, D.C., case suggests that patient privacy continues to be a concern. The Washington Post reported a week ago on the case of a George Washington University sophomore who checked himself into GW Hospital, depressed and thinking of suicide. Soon afterward he received a letter from the university saying he faced possible suspension or expulsion for violating the code of student conduct.
How did the university learn of the student's condition?
"I'm not able to comment on this story due to HIPAA," said Lisa McDonald, the hospital's director of marketing and business development.
Let me see if I have this straight--- our friend Lisa, who is, so far as I can tell from her title, not the compliance officer, but is instead a PR flack for the hospital, says she can't comment on what is on the face of it an egregious violation of the Privacy Rule, because commenting on a HIPAA violation would be a HIPAA violation?
I love this! Let's see if it works for other things--- "I'm sorry officer, I cannot accept this speeding ticket because by doing so I would be violating HIPAA."
"I know I spent the rent money on poker, honey, but we can't discuss it because I don't want to be in violation of the Privacy Rule."
"You know, the Administrative Simplification Rule sets forth civil penalties as high as $250,000.00, and in light of that, I just can't make my child support payment this month--- can't talk about it, though, HIPAA you know."
See how it works! Give it a try!