Sunday, November 05, 2006


(Or: What's the Matter with Kansas, Part Infinitude)

best_caduceusHIPAA? We don't need no stinking HIPAA!!!
TOPEKA, Kan. - An abortion doctor plans to ask for an investigation of the state attorney general and Bill O'Reilly over comments by the Fox television host that he got information from Kansas abortion records, the doctor's attorneys said Saturday.

Dr. George Tiller said he will ask the Kansas Supreme Court on Monday to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and take possession of the records of 90 patients from two clinics.

Attorney General Phill Kline obtained the records recently after a two-year battle that prompted privacy concerns. He has said he sought the records to review them for evidence of possible crimes including rape and illegal abortions.
"Information"? No not just "information". We're not talking about faceless statistics; we're talking about individual women's and girls' medical records that O'Reilly is claiming to have specific knowledge of:
During a Friday night broadcast of "The O'Reilly Factor," the conservative host said a "source inside" told the show that Tiller performs late-term abortions when a patient is depressed, which O'Reilly deemed "executing babies."

O'Reilly also said his show has evidence that Tiller's clinic and another unnamed clinic have broken Kansas law by failing to report potential rapes with victims ages 10 to 15.
And how did this come to light? Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, a McCarthyesque witch hunter whose current re-election campaign seems to be floundering, was doing a little snorgling with one of the fascist megaphonies, no doubt in hopes that it might boost his sagging numbers:
Kline, an abortion opponent and Republican in a tight race with Democrat Paul Morrison, was interviewed by O'Reilly during the segment.

"Our information says that on almost every medical sheet - and obviously we have a source inside here - it says, 'depression,'" O'Reilly told Kline during the broadcast. "I don't know whether you have that information or not - I don't know - but that's what it says."
Whether or not the files in question were redacted, as the article indicates, does not mean that a reporter with a serious desire to find one of the patients couldn't do it with the information in the records. But with regard to liability:
It wasn't clear Saturday whether O'Reilly's source had broken state or federal laws by divulging patient information or whether O'Reilly or his staff had viewed any records themselves. A request to Fox in Washington to interview O'Reilly or someone associated with his show wasn't answered Saturday.
I'll bet. But this is what happens when the nation's power-mongers and state-religionists ally to demonize other people's morality. Still, according to my understanding of it, there has been a likely violation of HIPAA, and the patients whose confidentiality has been breached can fight back:
(NJ Superior Court's) Community’s decision determined that if a covered entity has failed to protect PHI, it may not then bring a lawsuit to defend the privacy rights of the affected patients. The opinion does not prevent covered entities from citing the privacy rights of patients when presented with demands for the disclosure of PHI. Nor does the decision preclude a covered entity from engaging in litigation or motion practice to defend the privacy rights of patients whose PHI remains confidential. The decision leaves intact the covered entity’s power to report wrongful disclosure or receipt of PHI to the government and to the patients whose PHI has been disclosed. The government may address the HIPAA violations via criminal penalties, and the patients may pursue civil claims to defend privacy rights.
Regardless of the state in which the injury occurred, the injured parties have the right to file a complaint with the Federal Office of Civil Rights. For the women in this case, that would be Office VII:
Region VII - IA, KS, MO, NE
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
601 East 12th Street - Room 248
Kansas City, MO 64106
(816) 426-7278; (816) 426-7065 (TDD)
(816) 426-3686 FAX
The on-line complaint form can be found here, and sent to As for private lawsuits, I'd guess any ACLU attorney familiar with HIPAA law would be happy to take down O'Reilly and Kline together.

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