Top secret

What kind of information has been withheld under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act?

• Chris Halsne, an investigative reporter for KIRO-TV in Seattle, reported that Seattle hospitals were failing to notify the police when patients in police custody were discharged. On at least one occasion, hospital officials warned a murder suspect that detectives were on the way, allowing the suspect to escape, Halsne reported.

For the story, he obtained a copy of a hospital's internal memo that said, "we cannot and should not be calling" law enforcement "to pick up arrested patients without their authorization."

"They stand on HIPAA falsely and are releasing some pretty dangerous people," he said.

• In Georgia, a local sheriff's department cited HIPAA when reporters for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked whether deputies had received a medical clearance for the firing range.

The record "shows nothing whatsoever about medical information, it just said they were cleared," said David Milliron, the newspaper's computer-assisted reporting editor.

• In a St. Paul (Minn.) Pioneer Press story on the Minnesota Vikings football team in May, Coach Brad Childress cited HIPAA as a reason for not releasing the players' weights.