Friday, August 18, 2006

All by Myself

My bold, below. More on that further down the page.
I am a big freedom of the press advocate. I think that the final bastion of liberty is the people's right to know what is going on with both their government and the world around them. However, this has to be balanced with the right of privacy of the individual. I am often amused by reporters framing of the awful HIPAA regs and how they prevent them from doing their job. I was a reporter, once, too. I sympathize. But there is no built-in coda to the first amendment that says that reporters should have automatic access to private information. Being a reporter is a tough job, and HIPAA makes it a little tougher. It is a trade.
Here is another episode of that ongoing saga:

Sen. Kirk Schuring, R-Jackson Township, said the public should have a right to know about criminal activity, even with the HIPAA laws.

“The HIPAA laws should apply to the mentally ill,” he said. “I think everyone understands that. But for those who are guilty of crimes against society, those records should be open to the public.”

It’s not the first time the Ohio Department of Mental Health has used the HIPAA laws to withhold information.

After the two “client” patients, Nathan Young and Damien Corley escaped in May, The Indepedent requested information on other felony “clients” being housed at Heartland to find out how dangerous they might be.

Corley was charged with aggravated murder, and Young was charged with felonious assault in two different cases.

Neither the personal at Heartland or Wentz were forthcoming with that information.

When The Independent asked for a list of clients, Heartland CEO Helen Stevens said HIPAA laws didn’t allow her to do that.

Back to the bold. I would have a little more trust in a reporter who spelled the name of his own paper correctly, an editorial staff who might catch that, and a typesetter who used the built-in spell checking that most software has. Just a thought.

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