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  1. #1
    vcy
    vcy is offline Junior Member
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    Question HIPAA Statute of Limitation?

    I'm trying to get information about an ancestor who MAY have been admitted to the New York State Lunatic Asylum in Utica, Oneida County, New York in 1844 (160 years ago!). I have the court records declaring her insane according to the standards of that institution. Apparently various records (case files, visitation books, etc.) do exist for that institution but they are kept at the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center in Utica. When I inquired about the records I was told that they would not be available due to HIPAA.

    Does this restriction on my accessing those records seem reasonable to people who are concerned about misuse of their records today?

    Is there any way around this for me? I would really like to access the records in order to further my research into my family history. I have not been able to determine where my ancestor died, where she is buried, or whether or not her youngest daughter survived.
  2. #2
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    Unfortunately, a great many people have a very mistaken idea about what is and is not covered under HIPAA. I have no doubt that whoever told you that sincerely believe it to be true, but they were mistaken.

    Unfortunately, since the records are in the care and control of someone whose idea of what is protected is mistaken, I don't know what to tell you to do about it.

    Ellencee? Panzer?
  3. #3
    ellencee is offline Senior Member
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    HIPAA privacy laws apply only to providers that electronically transmit protected health information.

    New York's genealogy organizations may be able to provide the answer to whether or not the state allows the records to be reviewed for genealogy purposes.

    The poster should search cemetery information online; it's available by state and county.

    EC
  4. #4
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ellencee


    HIPAA privacy laws apply only to providers that electronically transmit protected health information.

    EC

    My response:

    Please cite the Federal law concerning that statement.

    Thanks.

    IAAL
  5. #5
    purple2 is offline Member
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    MVPC is run by the NY Office of Mental Health. Here is how to pursue this issue with them. Ask to speak to their Privacy Officer:

    OMH Customer Relations toll-free at 1-800-597-8481
  6. #6
    ellencee is offline Senior Member
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    HIPAA Compliance

    Who must comply with HIPAA requirements?

    All health plans, clearinghouses, and providers (also those who communicate with these groups) who choose to exchange data electronically must comply with HIPAA requirements. These requirements do not pertain only to providers receiving federal funds.


    EC
  7. #7
    I AM ALWAYS LIABLE is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by ellencee
    HIPAA Compliance

    Who must comply with HIPAA requirements?

    All health plans, clearinghouses, and providers (also those who communicate with these groups) who choose to exchange data electronically must comply with HIPAA requirements. These requirements do not pertain only to providers receiving federal funds.

    EC

    My response:

    First of all, that's not a Federal Statute - that's an "interpretation." Second, that's in addition to revealing medical information by mail, or in person. You said, "HIPAA privacy laws apply only to providers that electronically transmit protected health information." (underlining added) So, your quoted statement was wrong.

    IAAL
  8. #8
    ellencee is offline Senior Member
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    Who must comply with HIPAA?

    All healthcare providers, health plans, payers, clearinghouses, and other entities that process health data must comply.

    Any healthcare provider that electronically sends one of the transactions covered in the Final Rules (Claims, remittances, claim status inquiries,
    eligibility, certification) is covered by HIPAA. Any organization that electronically stores or transmits individually identified healthcare information must comply with the Security regulation. So, if the organization does any of the above (file a claim electronically or electronically store any healthcare info that can be tracked back to an individual) they must comply with the appropriate HIPAA regulation.


    Since the regulations frequently refer to "electronic" communication, what media falls into that category?

    HIPAA applies to all communication that is stored or transmitted electronically, or that has been stored or transmitted electronically in the past. Media includes, but is not limited to, computer databases, tapes, disks, telecommunications, fax, Internet, networks.
    OK, sweetheart--take it up with HIPAA.

    We're wearing costumes today; care to join us?

    EC
  9. #9
    ellencee is offline Senior Member
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    a. Does your office conduct all of the following transactions on paper, by phone, or by FAX (from a dedicated fax machine, as opposed to faxing from a computer)?

    Submitting claims or managed care encounter information
    Checking claim status inquiry and response
    Checking eligibility and receiving a response
    Checking referral certifications and authorizations
    Enrolling and disenrolling in a health plan
    Receiving health care payments and remittance advice
    Providing coordination of benefits
    If your office does not conduct any of the above standard transactions electronically and you do not have someone else conduct them electronically on your behalf such as a clearinghouse or billing service, you are not a covered entity and HIPAA does not apply to you.

    If you conduct any of these transactions electronically, you are a covered entity and you must comply with all HIPAA requirements, regardless of the size of your practice.
    My Wonder Woman costume has all these neat lassoes...

    EC
  10. #10
    purple2 is offline Member
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    Just an FYI, NY has long had strict confidentiality laws for psychiatric records. It may be that the provider is citing HIPAA when they are really describing all the confidentiality laws as a whole. I've heard people often use that term when they mean something larger.
  11. #11
    ellencee is offline Senior Member
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    The records in question are 160 years old. The question is, does HIPAA apply to these records? Obviously, at the time the records were generated, HIPAA did not apply. HIPAA became law in 1996 and electronic communication did not exist 160 years ago. I am not aware that HIPAA applies retroactively to the 19th century. It is possible that the facility entered all of its previous records into electronic database and created HIPAA protection for 160 year-old records, but I sincerely doubt it.

    Many of these type records are available for genealogy purposes; that is why I suggesting contacting a genealogy society in the state where the records are located. They will have an answer for the poster or will be able to provide the poster with direction.

    EC
  12. #12
    ablessin is offline Member
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    Although the hippa law is still relatively young, it sure is creating a WORLD of problems! There have been mega changes to so much in the health care industry, particular in 2005. Start will all insurance carriers are changing subsriber id numbers from Social to SSN, etc.
    Now, when I call Blue Sheild, I need federal tax id number, etc. Phone calls take longer and longer these days! Makes me wonder how we survived all these years with out that law ...( I don't care much for it personally).

    Anyway, the person with whom you are speaking is probably worried about violating someone's privacy - -regardless of the fact this ancestor is deceased.
    If you're trying to trace family history for psychiatric problems, you needn't go back so far...... if your mom, your mom's mom, or her mom (or on dad's side) - you should have a good idea what you're looking for.
    I understand your curiosity, however, who is this ancestor to you? Aunt, cousin, etc. It sort of sounds like you know that she was admitted to this institution, how much proof do you need, and what purpose would it serve?

    You may be best off letting the past rest in peace
  13. #13
    ellencee is offline Senior Member
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    I am an avid genealogist and have learned more about our society as a whole by researching my genealogy than I did in any formal learning institution.

    It would be wrong to assume that any female admitted to an asylum had even the remotest indication of mental disturbance or mental illness.

    Women were considered property until the mid to late 1920s. Women were committed to insane asylums because they wanted to marry the wrong man, or they were widowed and could not support themselves or their children. Some women were committed to insane asylums for simply disobeying their father, if they were unwed, or their husband, if they were married. These women were shut away from family and society for the duration of their lives and when they died, they were buried in unmarked graves in state-owned or charity-donated cemeteries. Often, no record exists of their lives prior to being committed to an insane asylum and only the name of the SOB who had them committed is recorded and sometimes his name was protected by ommission.

    I'll share my personal encounter with one of these women with you--

    When I was in college and rotated through the local state mental health facililty, I met a well-educated elderly woman who was the epitome of Southern grace and charm. She had been committed by her father for accepting a marriage proposal from a young man her father deemed "would not amount to a hill of beans". Until her death, I visited with her a few times a year. She never heard from her family again though she remained in that institution until her death. Thankfully, her former fiance left arrangements for a decent burial in a decent cemetery. I hope the woman's father knew that this man, who became Governor of GA and a US Senator, never forgot his first love and proved to be a far greater man that Dad could ever hope to be.

    ablessin
    I was around when HIPAA was being developed and as I have stated before, it surfaced in its initial stages as a way to protect HIV positive findings and AIDS diagnoses from being known by more than the patient and the doctor. "They" even tried to keep the lab results off of the chart and to keep the nurses and hospital staff from knowing; faced with a mass walk-out by the same, that did not become part of the "law". HIPAA evolved from protecting the HIV results from anyone without a need to know. Look at the monster it has become! Healthcare costs have multiplied and continue to multiply trying to make HIPAA become something it was never intended to be.
    EC
  14. #14
    ablessin is offline Member
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    To Ec

    I enjoyed reading your above post....

    I worked in an adult home, and many of the ederly were dumped off, never to again see family - it was very sad... Not that that was close to an insane asylum, but still - - people getting dumped off to become someone else's "problem" annoyed me.

    I agree with you about this hippa- - it has been taken to an extreme extreme. All these whopping penalities, jail time, etc.... and patients are not helping matters either!!! Any little thing they think is violated, they call and complain. I must say that I am fearful for the avenue healthcare is headed. With rising costs of healthcare, all these lawsuits....etc.
    When I first started working in the health care industry, it was not like this. Right down to basics - health premiums were not so high, emergency rooms were not overloaded, not really these public stupid lawsuits.

    I was in a car accident, and there was a woman in the bed next to me "with a sore throat" - I was so angry. I was in pain, needed xrays, and whatnot - -and I have this person next to me with no real problem - she could have called her PCP - - that is a huge problem - ER's are used incorrectly, and it cracks me up how the non-emergency patients cry how long they have to wait, well - that is because the ER staff is there to treat emergencies - -a sore throat - an earache - is NOT an emergency!

    Anyway, enough on that - - - has nothing to do with hippa - - - -
    My point is coming from a providers office: hippa is causing all kinds of problems, and now here we have someone looking for family history and can't get it because this law is being way over-reacted on.
    It's rediculous - - and it takes me back to "what did we do pre-hippa" - -the world seemed to function pretty well

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