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Finding Medical Privacy Laws

Question: Are you aware of any topical databases for searching federal and state healthcare laws? I am preparing to do a research study on a certain health condition. I want to find out if there are any state or federal guidelines concerning the use of a person's private medical information. Where should I look? I really don't want to search all 50 states individually; instead, I would like to use a single database or source that would point me to a few relevant laws.

Answer: Deanna Barmakian, a librarian at Harvard Law School library, Dana Rosenberg with LegalWrite in Santa Barbara, California, and Rebecca Roth, a librarian at Reed Smith LLP, respond.

Deanna: Currently, my favorite source for state comparative questions is the National Conference of State Legislatures Web site. The section that might prove useful for your question is entitled "HIPPA: Impacts and Actions by States: Medical Record Privacy, Security and Electronic Transactions." Note the 50 state survey on medical record privacy from the Health Privacy Project. Dated 2002, it summarizes each state's laws on medical records. You may display individual state summaries, or download relevant pages from the report. The report provides citations for the statutes so that you can double check the
accuracy and update it.

Dana: Because health privacy laws are not likely to differ significantly for different health conditions (with the exception of pregnancy or HIV-related conditions), the reader should find some of the following resources helpful for starting the research.

Rebecca: NILS INSource by CCH provides legal information for insurance businesses. You might also check the NAIC Models Laws (Westlaw) or the NAIC Compendium of State Laws on Insurance Topics. The latter is available directly from the NAIC.

You might also find help from insurance trade associations such as the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), the Health Care Compliance Association, or the Life and Health Compliance Organization. They also have compendiums on the insurance privacy laws that might answer this question.



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Created: 22 March 2005
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