Since stringent medical privacy regulations went into effect in 2003, the media have been forced to learn the new rules, work around them in some cases, and in others battle them in court.
Yet the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's privacy rule remains a prickly issue for reporters, hampering routine reporting assignments and big investigative pieces.
Journalists have challenged the privacy rule in court in a handful of cases and at least twice have won rulings requiring the release of information under state public records laws.
Published by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
This guide was compiled by Reporters Committee legal intern Hannah Bergman and was made possible by a grant from the Robert R. McCormick Tribune Foundation.