04 Aug 2014

Battling HIPAA Laws During Media Interviews

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Over the past several years, we’ve worked with many hospitals and doctors (including the hospital featured in this video, Emory University Hospital).  One of the battles doctors and hospitals are always facing are HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws.  These laws prevent institutions such as hospitals from discussing anything about a patient’s care without written authorization from the patient.This interview with one of the doctors treating the Ebola patient recently brought to the U.S. is a perfect example.  Right off the bat the anchor asks the doctor about the patient’s condition, admitting that she (the anchor) knows the doctor can’t discuss it.  In this case, the doctor does a nice job of addressing his HIPAA limitation, but what he could have done is also “bridge” to something else after saying that he can’t speak about the patient’s condition.Here’s a potential example:  As you know I can’t discuss the patient’s condition, but what I can tell you is the Emory University Hospital is doing everything in its power to address the patient’s needs and we feel with all the training we’ve had for situations like this we are very well positioned to help the patient as much as possible.HIPAA leaves doctors and hospital officials with few options regarding the media, but knowing the bridging technique can be a great asset in helping them still have a successful media interview despite those limitations.