HIPAA and State Law Exceptions

Standard Disclaimers:

I am not a medical health professional and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as medical advice. If you believe you are experiencing a medical emergency, dial 911 (where applicable) or contact proper emergency service personnel.

I am not an attorney and any comments I post are not intended, nor should they be construed, as legal advice. If you need legal advice, please consult a legal expert who is familiar with the area of legal expertise you need.

From a question in a Facebook group.

While HIPAA (U. S. federal law concerning medical privacy) covers people who died – https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/privacy/guidance/health-information-of-deceased-individuals/index.html, usually 50 years after death, the law allows states to have longer periods of coverage, including permanent restriction of access. In many cases, states have used permanent barring for things like state hospitals, especially those that were mental institutions. It’s hard to figure out as HIPAA doesn’t always make it clear in these cases.

Here’s one example for Topeka State Hospital records: https://www.kshs.org/p/topeka-state-hospital/11317

Patient case files from 1872 until the 1960s were filmed and placed in the State Archives at the Historical Society. The originals were destroyed. Only familial relations of deceased patients and living former patients can request information from these records. Kansas Statute 65-5603, paragraph 14, specifies the information that can be released for family history research, including: dates of birth and death, dates at hospital, and names and addresses of family members.  The medical information, including the DIAGNOSIS, is not open. To obtain copies from these records, please fill out and submit our request form to the reference staff along with payment for our reference fee.

If you notice, it does not allow medical information to be released, including diagnosis. This is not an isolated case as many states have similar permanent restrictions. In some states, they won’t even provide the limited information above.

About Wichita Genealogist

Originally from Gulfport, Mississippi. Live in Wichita, Kansas now. I suffer Bipolar I, ultra-ultra rapid cycling, mixed episodes. Blog on a variety of topics - genealogy, DNA, mental health, among others. Let's collaborateDealspotr.com
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