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July 17, 2018

How HIPAA Harms Care, and How to Stop It

Author Affiliations
  • 1Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Center for Patient Partnerships, University of Wisconsin Law School, Madison
JAMA. 2018;320(3):229-230. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8829

“Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“HIPAA, who?”

“I’m sorry, but I cannot disclose that.”

Clinicians and patients alike will laugh at this, but behind the laughter are anger and frustration. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a law created to protect patients, has borne with it serious obstacles to effective care. How did this happen? What went wrong on the road to protecting privacy?