Update: HIPAA was not waived following Orlando shooting

Following the shooting early Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., Mayor Buddy Dyer told reporters he had contacted the White House to waive HIPAA regulations so area hospitals could communicate with victims' family members. However, an HHS official indicated the agency did not actually waive HIPAA because it was not necessary to do so, reports WIRED.

While it is true certain provisions of the HIPAA Privacy Rule may be waived in certain cases of national emergencies, it was unnecessary to invoke the waiver following the shooting because HIPAA itself already allows for covered entities to disclose protected health information in certain emergency situations. (For more in-depth exploration of this issue, read Becker's previous coverage here.)

"These disclosures, which are made when it is determined to be in the best interest of a patient, are permissible without a waiver to help identify incapacitated patients, or to locate family members of patients to share information about their conditions," Marissa Padilla, HHS' principal deputy assistant secretary for public affairs, told CNN.

Ms. Padilla added that such disclosures are permissible to same-sex partners, a question of importance given the attack was on a gay nightclub.

Mayor Dyer's office also confirmed to CNN that the mayor did request the waiver.

More articles on the Orlando shooting:

Orlando Health's response to America's deadliest shooting at nightclub: 5 things to know 
Orlando shooting re-raises questions on gay blood donation ban 
Cigna opens 24/7 hotline in wake of Orlando shooting 

 

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