In the wake of the Orlando shooting, reports circulated that the city’s mayor Buddy Dyer had asked the White House to waive regulations that govern how health information is communicated and shared, known as HIPAA. Dyer said that providers in Orlando hospitals had run into privacy concerns when releasing health information to families because of HIPAA.
But the White House says it received no such request, nor did it approve anything. Kevin Griffis, assistant secretary for public affairs at Health and Human Services, told Modern Healthcare in no uncertain terms that HIPAA already allows for disclosures of health information in such circumstances:
HIPAA allows health care professionals the flexibility to disclose limited health information to the public or media in appropriate circumstances. 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 condition.
HIPAA waivers are extremely rare, according to Modern Healthcare — and the last event that necessitated such action was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in New Orleans.