Hot Topic: Nursing Homes for Sex Offenders & Violent Offenders

Balancing Act: Privacy Rights of Convicted Sex Offenders and HIPAA


In 2006, the Government Accountability Office ("GAO") issued a report concerning the prevalence of registered sex offenders living in long-term care facilities. While each state has adopted its own approach to sex offender notification and identification, long-term care facilities are in a unique position and face complex questions when a resident has been identified as a convicted sex offender.

Such questions include whether a facility can disseminate information about an offender's convictions to staff members or other residents, or whether disclosing this information violates the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

Ensuring the confidentiality of protected health information ("PHI") and averting serious consequences that could result from indiscriminate disclosure of such information while protecting the safety of all residents are among the most challenging issues confronting health care providers today.

PHI is defined as "individually identifiable health information ("IIHI") that is (1) transmitted by electronic media; (2) maintained in any medium described in the definition of electronic media; or (3) transmitted or maintained in any other form or medium." 45 CFR § 160.103. ..Continued.. by Patricia A. Markus and Erin E. Jochum of a Law Firm

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