Law School Case Brief
Matter of Miguel M. (Barron) - 2011 NY Slip Op 3886, 17 N.Y.3d 37, 926 N.Y.S.2d 371, 950 N.E.2d 107
The Privacy Rule, 45 C.F.R. tit. 160, 164, adopted by the federal government pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Pub. L. No. 104-191, 110 U.S. Stat 1936, prohibits the disclosure of a patient's medical records to a State agency that requests them for use in a proceeding to compel the patient to accept mental health treatment, where the patient has neither authorized the disclosure nor received notice of the agency's request for the records.
Dr. Charles Barron, as designee of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, applied for an order under Mental Hygiene Law § 9.60 requiring "assisted outpatient treatment" (“AOT”) for for Miguel M. The petition alleged that Miguel was suffering from a mental illness; that he was unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision; that he had a history of failing to comply with treatment; that he was unlikely to participate in necessary treatment voluntarily; and that he needed, and would benefit from, AOT to prevent a relapse or deterioration of his mental status, which would be likely to result in serious harm to Miguel or to others. At the hearing on the petition, Barron offered in evidence records from two hospitals relating to Miguel’s hospitalizations. A witness called by Barron testified that the hospitals had furnished the records in response to a request made without notice to Miguel. Miguel had not authorized the release of the records, and no court order for their disclosure had been sought or obtained.
Was the disclosure of patient Miguel’s medical records, without his authorization, in order to compel him to accept "assisted outpatient treatment" proper?
The Court of Appeals of New York reversed the judgment of the intermediate appellate court and remitted the case to the trial court for further proceedings. The Court found that the Privacy Rule, 45 C.F.R. tit. 160, 164, adopted pursuant to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Pub. L. No. 104-191, 110 U.S. Stat. 1936, prohibited disclosure of an identifiable patient's health information without the patient's authorization, subject to certain exceptions. The exceptions offered by Barron, permitting disclosure for purposes of "public health" and "treatment" did not fit the facts of this case. The Court ruled that medical records obtained in violation of HIPAA or the Privacy Rule, and the information contained in those records, were not admissible in a proceeding to compel assisted outpatient treatment (AOT).
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