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4. Infectious disease and health epidemics

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  • Alaska

    The Department of Health and Social Services may inspect health care records that would identify cancers, birth defects or infectious disease required to be reported, and may conduct research using such health care data. Data obtained or a records inspected under this section that identify a particular individual are confidential, and are not subject to inspection or copying under the public records act. AS 18.05.042.

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  • Arizona

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Arkansas

    The Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services maintains reports of positive HIV and AIDS tests. Those records are exempt from the FOIA. Ark. Code Ann. § 20-15-904. Records of healthcare-acquired infections collected by the Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services are exempt from the FOIA. Ark. Code Ann. § 20-9-1206. The records maintained by the Cancer Registry of Arkansas are also exempt from disclosure. Ark. Code Ann. § 20-15-203.

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  • California

    Information about an ongoing outbreak of an infectious disease at a public facility is not expressly exempt and strong public policies support disclosure of such information to inform the public, dissuade undue panic and allow the public to judge the agency’s response. It can be anticipated that some concerns about whether disclosure will violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPPA”) will be expressed, if not directly asserted to thwart disclosure. HIPPA would only apply, however, if the facility fell within the definition of a “health care provider” and the disclosure was of “individually identifiable health information,” as those terms are defined under 42 USCA Section 1320(d); 45 CFR 160.103. Even so, HIPPA expressly authorizes disclosure pursuant to other legal mandates, such as a state‘s public records act. CFR § 164.512(a).

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  • Connecticut

    See Conn. Gen. Stat. §19a-581 et. Seq. re: confidential HIV-related information.

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  • Delaware

    Not specified.

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  • Georgia

    Infectious disease and health epidemic case reports and data are confidential but the Department of Public Health may release such reports and data in statistical form or for valid research purposes.  O.C.G.A. § 31-12-2(a).

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  • Hawaii

    Medical opinions recorded in records maintained by a treatment center operated by the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii are within the scope of the physician-patient privilege and, therefore, protected from public disclosure under the UIPA. Medical Opinions Protected, OIP Op. Ltr. No. 93-15 (Oct. 1, 1993).

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  • Idaho

    Idaho Code § 74-106(19) exempts records and information contained in the registry of immunizations against childhood diseases maintained by the Department of Health and Welfare. Idaho Code § 74-106(12) exempts records of the Department of Health and Welfare that identify a person infected with a reportable disease.

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  • Illinois

    Open if the data does not identify any specific patient or reveal medical information belonging to a specific person.  See Southern Illinoisan v. Illinois Dept. of Pub. Health, 218 Ill. 2d 390, 844 N.E.2d 1 (2006).

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  • Indiana

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue specifically. However, local health officers must keep full and permanent records of the local health department’s public health work. Ind. Code § 16-20-1-10. Additionally, the state department must publicly release inspection reports, but not until the recipient of an inspection report has had ten days to respond. Ind. Code § 16-19-3-25(b). However, the state department may release the report earlier than ten days after it is issued to protect the public or consumers of health services from an “imminent threat to health or safety.”

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  • Iowa

    Reports of infectious diseases prepared pursuant to chapter 139A are confidential. Iowa Code § 139A.3.

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  • Kentucky

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • Louisiana

    “All records of interviews, questionnaires, reports, statements, notes, and memoranda procured by and prepared by employees or agents of the office of public health . . . in connection with special morbidity and mortality studies and research investigations to determine any cause or condition of health, . . . are confidential and shall be used solely for statistical, scientific, and medical research purposes relating to the cause or condition of health. . . .”  La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 40:3.1(A).

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  • Maine

    Maine Department of Health and Human Service records that contain personally identifying medical information that are created or obtained in connection with the department's public health activities or programs are confidential.  These records include, but are not limited to, information on genetic, communicable, occupational or environmental disease entities, and information gathered from public health nurse activities, or any program for which the department collects personally identifying medical information.  22 M.R.S.A. § 42(5).  However, medical and epidemiologic information in which an individual cannot be identified is public.  Id.  The prevalence of infectious disease and vaccination rates have been made public by the Department.

    The names of individuals having or suspected of having a notifiable disease or condition are confidential.  22 M.R.S.A. § 824.  Information concerning a notifiable disease or condition or suspected epidemic that is provided by a doctor to the Bureau of Health must also be kept confidential.  22 M.R.S.A. § 815.

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  • Maryland

    Any report on human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome submitted in accordance with Title 18 of the Health-General Article is exempt from disclosure. § 4-329(b)(3). A request by a person in interest may not be denied, however, by an agency merely because the person seeks the identity of the source of infection, or because the information sought was gathered in the course of an agency's investigation of an outbreak or an infectious disease. See Haigley v. Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, 128 Md. App. 194, 228, 736 A.2d 1185, 1202-03 (1999).

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  • Massachusetts

    “As a general rule, medical information [about an identifiable individual] will always be of a sufficiently personal nature to warrant exemption” under the privacy exemption. Guide to Mass. Pub. Recs. Law (Sec’y of State, rev. March 2009), at 11.

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  • Michigan

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Montana

    No statutory or case law on this issue.

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  • Nebraska

    Medical records of individuals are not public. Otherwise, not addressed by public records statutes.

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  • Nevada

    There is no statutory or case law addressing the issue

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  • New Hampshire

    Neither the Statute nor case law addresses this issue.

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  • New Jersey

    N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1 exempts from the definition of “Government Record:”

    emergency or security information or procedures for any buildings or facility which, if disclosed, would jeopardize security of the building or facility or persons therein; and

    security measures and surveillance techniques which, if disclosed, would create a risk to the safety of persons, property, electronic data or software;

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  • New Mexico

    Any person may obtain any aggregate data from the health information system.  NMSA 1978 § 24-14A-6(C).

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  • North Carolina

    All information and records, whether publicly or privately maintained, that identify a person who has AIDS virus infection or who has or may have a disease or condition required to be reported is confidential. However, such information may be released or made public under the following circumstances:

    (1) Release is made of specific medical or epidemiological information for statistical purposes in a way that no person can be identified;

    (2) Release is made of all or part of the medical record with the written consent of the person or persons identified or their guardian;

    (3) Release is made for purposes of treatment, payment, research, or health care operations to the extent that disclosure is permitted under 45 Code of Federal Regulations §§ 164.506 and 164.512(i).;

    (4) Release is necessary to protect the public health and is made as provided by the Commission in its rules regarding control measures for communicable diseases and conditions;

    (5) Release is made pursuant to law;

    (6) Release is made pursuant to subpoena or court order;

    (7) Release is made by the state or local health department to a court or a law enforcement official for the purpose of enforcement, or investigating a terrorist incident using nuclear, biological, or chemical agents;

    (8) Release is made by the state or local health department to another federal, state or local public health agency for the purpose of preventing or controlling the spread of a communicable disease or communicable condition;

    (9) Release is made by the state health department for bona fide research purposes. The Commission shall adopt rules providing for the use of the information for research purposes;

    (10) Release is made pursuant to applicable statute; or

    (11) Release is made pursuant to any other provisions of law that specifically authorize or require the release of information or records related to AIDS. G.S. § 130A-143.

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  • North Dakota

    To protect the integrity of disease control records, to ensure their proper use, and to ensure efficient and proper administration of the department of health’s disease control function, it is unlawful for any person to permit inspection of or to disclose information contained in disease control records, including results of laboratory tests, or to copy or issue a copy of all or part of any such records. N.D.C.C. § 23-07-20.1.

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  • Ohio

    The Ohio Revised Code sets forth a specialized process for obtaining records regarding HIV status from the Department of Health. Ohio Rev. Code § 3701.243. Information obtained by the Department of Health’s partner notification system in conjunction with AIDS task forces are specifically excluded from public records; disclosure of these records requires an application using the process set forth in § 3701.243. Ohio Rev. Code § 3701.241(A)(7).

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  • Oklahoma

    The individual forms, computer tapes, or other forms of data collected by and furnished to the Division of Health Care Information or to a data processor pursuant to the Oklahoma Health Care Information System Act shall be confidential and shall not be public records as defined in the Open Records Act.  63 O.S. § 1-120.

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  • Oregon

    ORS 433.008 exempts “[i]nformation obtained by the Oregon Health Authority or a local public health administrator in the course of an investigation of a reportable disease or disease outbreak,” with enumerated exceptions for disclosure to state and federal agencies, health care workers, persons with communicable diseases, and certain others, unless there is “clear and convincing evidence that the release is necessary to avoid an immediate danger to other individuals or to the public.”

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  • Rhode Island

    There is no statutory or case law addressing this issue.

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  • South Carolina

    Individual medical records are exempt from disclosure under federal law, and sexually transmitted disease records are confidential.  S.C. Code Ann. § 44-29-135. Reports are required to be made to the State Department of Health and Environmental Control in instances of deaths from contagious or infectious diseases and chemical or other terrorism. The reports are to include the name and address of the patient and the nature of the disease. S.C. Code Ann. § 44-29-10.  It is possible that the information without the patient identifying information would constitute a public record under state law.

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  • South Dakota

    Generally closed. See SDCL §34-22-12.1

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  • Tennessee

    Frequently closed. T.C.A. §§ 68-5-604, 703; 68-10-113, 116, 117; 68-11-222.

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  • Texas

    Not specifically addressed.

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  • Utah

    Communicable disease information relating to an individual is confidential and may be released only in accordance with enumerated requirements. See Utah Code § 26-6-27.

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  • Vermont

    Healthcare providers are required to report diagnosis of certain communicable diseases as well as any illness, disease, injury or death identified by the department of health as likely to be caused by a weapon of mass destruction. 13 V.S.A. § 3504(a)(1); 18 V.S.A. § 1001. Information collected pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 3504(a)(1) or 18 V.S.A. § 1001 is considered privileged and confidential. 13 V.S.A. § 3504(g); 18 V.S.A. § 1001.

    All information and reports in connection with persons who have venereal diseases shall be regarded as absolutely confidential and for the sole use of the Board in the performance of its duties hereunder, and such records shall not be accessible to the public nor shall such records be deemed public records. 18 V.S.A. § 1099.

    Vermont will provide medical testing to the victims of sexual violence and the results of such testing shall remain confidential. 13 V.S.A. § 3256(g)(2).

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  • Virginia

    Patient level data that is collected for health purposes are exempt from the Act and publicly released data must be a format so to ensure patients cannot be identified. Va. Code Ann. § 32.1-276.9.  A person making a disclosure of information subject to this confidentiality provision is subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation.

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  • Washington

    While the Public Records Act contains numerous exemptions related to personal health care information, no specific provision governs access to statistics regarding epidemics.  The state Department of Health gathers and periodically reports on incidents of certain diseases.  See WAC 246-100 and 246-101.

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  • West Virginia

    (This section is blank. See the point above.)

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  • Wyoming

    Closed to the extent they reveal personally identifiable medical data on individuals.

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