Senator proposes fines for release of patient information
WASHINGTON, D.C.–A bill proposed in late October by Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah) would create stiff civil and criminal fines to penalize persons who mishandle “sensitive medical information,” including hospitals which release information to the media about a patient’s condition.
The Medical Records Confidentiality Act, according to a Bennett press release, would establish stiffer rules on access to personal medical records, grant individuals a right to inspect their own medical records and specify procedures for health care workers who handle such records.
The proposed legislation would preempt current state laws on the subject and prohibit custodians of health care records from disclosing an individual’s protected health information without the person’s consent. The prohibition would not apply in cases of emergencies, government subpoenas and warrants, public health matters and requests by next of kin.
Violations of the act could result in fines of $10,000 to $50,000, but “frequent violations” could result in a $250,000 fine. (S. 1360)