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    Posted April 19, 2014 by
    Phillipston, Massachusetts
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    AHIPAA Medical Privacy Regulation Safety Valve

    Adding a Safety Valve to the HIPAA Medical Privacy Regulations

    The HIPAA Regulations currently in place in were put there for a very specific reason, to protect a person's privacy and to restrict information being shared without a patients permission. This is all well and good and as it should be.
    However the HIPAA Regulations, as they stand today, also bring new questions to the forefront. When does a person's right to be independent cross over to being inhumane. Is it right for a person with a mental health disability who is off their medicine to be allowed to live on the street because that is the decision they made? Or for a person with special needs to live in filth because they chose to hoard? And is it fair to leave the medical professionals, emergency personnel and city and town officials to deal with these issues on their own?
    That is where I am hoping my proposed Safety Valve for the HIPPA Regulations would come in. If the safety valve were placed on the HIPPA . If a person had a diagnosed disability and a medical professional, emergency personnel or city or town official felt that because of this disability they were making decisions that were dangerous to their health and well being, they could alert that person's emergency contact about the issue with a phone call.
    There are guidelines within this provision to protect the person with the disability as well. A phone call could not be made until that particular medical professional, emergency personnel or city or town official had documented three separate instances where they had tried to work with the person around the issue and failed, before they could call the emergency contact.
    The person's emergency contact who receives the call would have no decision making powers. Instead they would only be alerted to a potentially harmful situation, thus allowing them to be a fully participating member of the problem solving team.
    Yes the individual has rights to make their own decisions. However we need to remember that the emergency contact, especially if a person has a disability, also has rights. Among them the right to be alerted to a situation before it becomes a crisis. I feel independence for all parties needs to be respected in this situation. A safety net needs to be in place for all of us, whether we have a disability today or in the future, to ensure we remain a caring and humane society.
    A petition urging Congress to add the Safety Valve to the HIPAA Regulation can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/u-s-congress-add-a-safety-valve-to-the-hipaa-medical-privacy-regulations
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