HIPAA Law Handcuffs Hospitals and Police

Police and Law Enforcement officials are often burdened, some say unnecessarily so, with medical privacy restrictions and obligations. In many instances, these officials must act fast or risk losing suspects, data, or other valuable information.

It appears this happened over the weekend when “Binghamton General Hospital staff members released a man Endicott police intended to charge with threatening to harm a child.”

Other area police agencies said the federal privacy laws have led to potentially dangerous people being released without their knowledge.

“It’s not an uncommon occurrence,” Vestal Police Capt. David Burdick said. “The reason we take people to crisis centers is because they’re a danger to themselves or others and we like to have that heads-up when they’re released.”

Burdick said people have been released in the past from either psychiatric or medical treatment, without police knowledge, before detectives were done investigating an incident or before police could warn victims. Burdick wasn’t sure how exactly how many similar incidents Vestal police have dealt with this year.

However, Burdick and other Broome County police officials agreed that hospital staff members are just following the new rules.

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