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Comment & Response
December 11, 2018

Potential Harms of HIPAA

Author Affiliations
  • 1US Air Force, Office of Airmen’s Counsel, San Antonio, Texas
  • 2University of the Incarnate Word School of Osteopathic Medicine, San Antonio, Texas
JAMA. 2018;320(22):2378-2379. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.17183

To the Editor In their Viewpoint on misconceptions surrounding the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule,1 Dr Berwick and Ms Gaines2 provided an accurate diagnosis but offered a problematic prescription. There is little doubt that counterproductive HIPAA myths can impede communication and compromise care when health care organizations adopt a culture of silence.3 Denying information to treating clinicians and refusing to speak with loved ones involved in a patient’s care are neither conducive to optimal treatment nor reflective of actual HIPAA requirements. These errant practices typically emanate from draconian institutional policies, inadequate staff training, or “knee-jerk” confusion.2