Monday, December 24, 2007

HIPAA and the Good Samaritan

I received a call the other day from a man who said he'd found a wallet with an insurance card inside it. On the insurance card was a phone number, and when he called it, he got me. He wanted to return the wallet (and the money and credit cards inside) to its owner, and he requested the member's phone number for this purpose.

Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do to help this kind man. HIPAA prevented me from acknowledging even that the wallet's owner had this insurance in the first place--to say nothing of giving out his phone number. I apologized profusely for my inability to help him, suggested he enlist the help of the local police, and added that the wallet's owner would surely appreciate his efforts.

May your holidays be full of good will toward all--and be unencumbered by complicated federal privacy legislation.

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