Did the President’s Dr. Break HIPAA Laws?

February 21st, 2017
Did the President’s Dr. Break HIPAA Laws?

Earlier this year, the New York Times reported that a physician that has treated the president for 36 years disclosed that Trump takes Propecia (finasteride), a drug used to treat prostate issues as well as male pattern baldness. Dr. Harold N. Bornstein of New York also stated that Trump was “healthy” and that his medical care was “as exactly up to date.”

Certainly, the president has distinctive hair that has been the focus of significant speculation, and the disclosure that he takes a drug used to treat baldness makes for good material for the late night talk show hosts and denizens of the internet.

A Breach of Patient Confidentiality?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule establishes privacy rights in a person’s health information. Generally speaking, before a health care professional covered by HIPAA discloses or uses confidential patient information, he or she must obtain authorization from the patient. The authorization must specify a number of elements, including the following:

  • A description of the information that is to be disclosed
  • The person who is authorized to make the disclosure
  • The person to whom the healthcare professional may make the disclosure
  • The expiration date of the authorization

The Times article indicates that Dr. Bornstein has had no contact with the President since he took office and that no one from the administration had asked for the medical records that he kept. Furthermore, at times during the interviews that provided the material for the story, Dr. Bornstein declined to provide information regarding the President’s health, stating that is was “none of your business.”

Taken together, these facts seem to indicate that Dr. Bornstein did not have the required authorizations to disclose Trump’s health information. If this is the case, Dr. Bornstein may very well have placed his medical license in jeopardy and may even be facing criminal prosecution by the Department of Justice.

Call 732 238-8686 today for more information.

If you are a healthcare professional and have questions regarding patient confidentiality, you should call Bowne Barry & Barry today. Our lawyers are committed to helping healthcare professionals comply with HIPAA when responding to a subpoena or participating in litigation related to a patient. To schedule a consultation with a member of our team, call our office today at 732 238-8686. If you would prefer, you can also send us an email through our online contact form.