Lohan incident brings up privacy laws
December 22nd, 2010
04:00 PM ET

Lohan incident brings up privacy laws

Lindsay Lohan apparently had an "incident" at the Betty Ford Center, where the actress allegedly assaulted an employee. Authorities in Palm Desert, California, said they are investigating this claim.

And the employee, Dawn Holland, was fired after information leaked to the media. The center issued a statement, but did not identify Holland:

"When patients come to the center for treatment, they come to a safe place where their identity is protected, where anonymity is safeguarded," the center said. "Regrettably, on December 21, 2010, one of our employees violated strict confidentiality guidelines and laws by publicly identifying patients in a media interview and by disclosing a privileged document. That employee has been terminated by the Betty Ford Center."

Naming patients and revealing health-related records go against HIPPA, which refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

The following information is protected under HIPPA, according to the Department of Health and Human Services

* Information your doctors, nurses, and other health care providers put in your medical record
* Conversations your doctor has about your care or treatment with nurses and others
* Information about you in your health insurer’s computer system
* Billing information about you at your clinic
* Most other health information about you held by those who must follow these laws

Health care providers and insurers must allow you to:

* Ask to see and get a copy of your health records
* Have corrections added to your health information
* Receive a notice that tells you how your health information may be used and shared
* Decide if you want to give your permission before your health information can be used or shared for certain purposes, such as for marketing
* Get a report on when and why your health information was shared for certain purposes

You can file a complaint with the provider or health insurer, or with the U.S. government, if your health information has not been protected, or you believe your rights were denied.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. wowlfie

    No, the Lohan incident brings up what a witch she is. Once a spoiled brat always a spoiled brat.

    December 22, 2010 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RealisticExpectations

    If we didn't already KNOW she was at Betty Ford, it would have been an issue.

    On top of that, the police became involved, thus THAT part of this whole fiasco is part of the public record.

    If she'd quietly gone to Betty Ford and worked through her issues without bringing any attention to herself, that would have been fine. But she's a news-ho and, like her mother, needs to stay in the public eye to justify her existence in her own mind.

    December 22, 2010 at 19:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Karen

      No, it's not public record. Not everything having to do with the police is public record. I work at a PD, and I get that all day from people. "You have to give me that report, it's public record!" No, it simply is not. You must have a right to gain certain information. That is the problem here. The public did not have a right to personal information being leaked. Learn the laws before you go around envoking them.

      December 23, 2010 at 09:27 | Report abuse |
    • OverEd

      @Karen. Do you work for a PD in California? I'm sure you know that access laws differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. And how do FOIA laws play into access inCalifornia?

      December 23, 2010 at 14:42 | Report abuse |
  3. Jeff

    HIPAA is not spelled HIPPA. In the article you correctly state it stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) yet mispelled it multiple times...

    December 22, 2010 at 19:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OverEd

      A sad state of affairs when a "journalist" misspells an acronym when the FULLY SPELLED reference is right in front of them. C'est la Vie. That's what I get for reading the National Enqui......oops

      December 22, 2010 at 19:47 | Report abuse |
    • David Collins

      Thank you! I work in the industry, and one of my biggest pet peeves is when people spell HIPAA wrong!

      December 23, 2010 at 06:30 | Report abuse |
  4. r

    Of course, all bets are off via a body scan at an airport.

    December 22, 2010 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. OverEd

    wrt the police – I believe that thats where the problem arises. In order for the police to become involved, that is before there is a public record, somebody had to contact them and name Lohan in the complaint. It is that act, releasing her name, that MAY violate HIPAA. The person's firing notwithstanding, it raises an interesting issue.

    December 22, 2010 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RealisticExpectations

      Actually, from what has been said LINDSAY is the one who called the cops.

      December 23, 2010 at 02:02 | Report abuse |
  6. Calvin Graves

    I love you Lindsay. You can count on your real fans.

    December 22, 2010 at 19:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • OverEd

      yes you can – and you only need to use one hand

      December 22, 2010 at 19:48 | Report abuse |
    • Krazy Cook

      when did she learn how to count ? you are giving her way too much credit

      December 23, 2010 at 10:57 | Report abuse |
    • OverEd

      @KC – counting is part of her rehab. They use cultural references, example: 1 shot, 6 pack, 12 oz, 28 grams, etc...

      December 23, 2010 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
  7. Famouslisa

    Isn't her 15 minutes up yet?

    December 22, 2010 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Chuck Kennedy RN, LNHA

    There is no question that Lindsay Lohan's time is over and she should crawl away quietly. However as a Nurse and Nursing home administrator, the facility had no choice but to fire the worker. The issue is not about Lohan but the HIPPA privacy laws. If this employee can run her mouth about Lohan to the media then the precedent is set so any healthcare worker can talk about any patient. After 30 years of healthcare almost everybody has an issue they do not want someone to know about. After al do you want the world to know about your new penile implant, prolapsed rectum, Viagra or Valtrex prescription. It is just a shame it also protects someone like her.

    December 22, 2010 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Marc Ellis

      WRONG, it has nothing to do with her treatment, her inability to achieve an erection, or her prolapsed UTERUS, IT HAS TO DO WITH HER LEAVING THE BETTY FORD CENTER AND DRINKING, then returning and being accosted by the staff... She attacked the employee and the police were called, the attack now being public record has everything to do with her actions and has NOTHING to do with HIPPA... Sure, she doesn't want the court to know she's violating her sentence...

      December 22, 2010 at 23:18 | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      You're half-wrong Marc Ellis. Yeah, LL allegedly violated her treatment and yeah, maybe she attacked Dawn Holland. That's punishable. But Dawn Holland violated HIPAA rules. ANYONE with access to patients in a health care setting receives training on patient confidentiality, and Holland violated Lindsay's privacy. Plain and simple, like it or not. Both parties were in the wrong and both deserve to be punished, but their crimes are wildly different.

      December 22, 2010 at 23:37 | Report abuse |
    • RealisticExpectations

      Oh, Jay...

      It was well known that Lindsay Lohan is at Betty Ford. Very likely, if the altercation had not broken out, this would indeed have been swept under the HIPAA rug.

      However, Lindsay called the cops (she says). Thus it becomes a part of the public record. Organizations like TMZ and others peruse police call logs for stuff like this.

      December 23, 2010 at 02:15 | Report abuse |
  9. B

    All these concerns about health care privacy are moot when we are not required to create a system of electronic medical records, easily accessed, copied and disseminated. If the government could not protect its most secret diplomatic and military secrets from Jullian Assange, how will they protect your private medical records?

    December 22, 2010 at 22:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. TamarS

    lohan needs soooo much help aftre a life of emotinonal abuse (and identified patient status) by family and friends. I hope she stays out of the media in her own way for several years. she's intelligent and talented but used by too many people to make them a buck. I hope she talks with robert downey jr. and recovers in 5 years to emerge as the talent she is. but it will take at least that long. she needs some time to heal from family use & abuse (especially mom, sister and dad). they need lib=ve their klives and she needs to live hers!

    December 22, 2010 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. SoFaLaw

    I am a lawyer. Unfortunately for the employer, the statute governs none of the conduct for which the employee was fired. If the employer is claiming that the employee was terminated for breach of conduct under the Act, then the employee will likely prevail. This does not mean however that the employee has not breached other conduct guidelines of her employment contract, but the fact that the employer is deferring to the Act as justification for her terminations leads to the belief that the employer did not prohibit such conduct in regular employment agreements.

    December 22, 2010 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SoFaLaw

      To clarify, the Act prohibit releasing the following:

      Information your doctors, nurses, and other health care providers put in your medical record
      * Conversations your doctor has about your care or treatment with nurses and others
      * Information about you in your health insurer’s computer system
      * Billing information about you at your clinic
      * Most other health information about you held by those who must follow these laws

      By speaking about a possible assualt by Lohan the employee did not 1) release any information a doctor would put in her record about her medical care, 2) release any information about a computer system, 3) release any billing information, or 4) any other personal information held solely for medical purposes. The employee will likely prevail here.

      December 22, 2010 at 23:11 | Report abuse |
    • OverEd

      So SoFa, do you specialize in health care law? Releasing the name of a person receiving treatment in a medical office also violates HIPAA. Consider – Lohan's name is something that a doctor would put in her medical record, thus the release of the name would violate the statute. A decent attorney would at least consider that arguement. (and no, I can't specify the CFR for that) I'm also an attorney, though my work in HIPAA is a little outdated.
      The reason I steted earlier that it might make for an interesting issue revolves around the question of what rights an employee in a medical office surrenders wrt HIPAA. The right to file/answer a criminal charge? And, if Lohan filed the complaint, what privacy rights under HIPAA remain?

      December 23, 2010 at 08:00 | Report abuse |
    • AmicusBrief

      What an incredible ignorance of the law. The notion that the complexity of HIPAA can be summarized in a handful of bullet points is absurd.

      December 23, 2010 at 09:18 | Report abuse |
  12. Sherri

    The HIPPA law is good. However, Lindsey Lohan spends a lot of money on PR- and they make sure the world knows where she is at all times, no matter if she is in re-hab or not. The same with Robt. Downey Jr, Charlie Sheen, etc. 'Regular' people go to get treatment and deserve confidentiality. 'Celebrities' are there to go through the motions and get more press, and then hopefully a TV , Book and Movie deal. If they actually address their problem, that is just a bonus..

    The employee is the agrieved here. Hopefully this will be a benchmark case for this kind of thing- 'celebrity' patients whose own staffers do more to compromise the confidentiality of other patients in the 'leaking' of info about their employer.

    Take away the limelight- and Lohan is just another addict who has been in re-hab 5 times, and in all likelihood, won't ever be rehabilitated. I worked in acute care for 23 years and sub-acute care for 14. There are myriad ways people will try and get confidential information. The best means to protect it is to have staff that grasp what confidential really means.

    December 23, 2010 at 01:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. daleleblanc

    You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price by searching online for "Wise Health Insurance" If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

    December 23, 2010 at 01:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • RealisticExpectations

      And what does your Healthcare post have to do with the subject of Lindsay Lohan? You're just spamming your business.

      December 23, 2010 at 02:12 | Report abuse |
  14. Jason

    Wow the pack mentality shows itself, and people say their not animals.

    December 23, 2010 at 01:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. moribundman

    That "article" is not even amateurishly written. Was this written by a fourth grader?

    December 23, 2010 at 05:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. razzlea


    December 23, 2010 at 08:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Carol

    I'm so glad that the employee was fired. She did discuss with the media Lindsay's treatment. The fact that she went to the media is enough IMO for her to be fired. That is a firable offense in the Federal Government. Any media requests have to first go thru the public relations office.

    I also don't believe that the employee suffered any real injuries. I also don't buy that anything would be swept under the rug if the employee didn't blab to the media. Lindsay is the one who called the cops. They would have investigated.

    I also expect that the employee was paid money for talking to the media.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Jenna

    Okay... it's "HIPAA" not "HIPPA." Why does EVERYONE always get that wrong??

    December 23, 2010 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. peter klika

    This is not about patient privacy. This is about committing criminal acts (an assault) while at a rehab facility. If I assault a nurse while I am in the hospital, this is not about my patient rights to privacy. Privacy applies to my treatment; not to my criminal acts. Ms. Lohan belongs in jail. The longer she hides behind her pricey lawyers and "handlers", the sicker she will become. This is a good example of California judges giving special treatment to rich and famous pretty girls. If Lohan were black, poor, and ugly. she would have been in jail long ago. But she got the best American justice money can buy. Peter Klika, Kapaau, Hawaii (we put violent druggies in jail here; we don't worship them)

    December 23, 2010 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. gayleprints

    Police reports tend to be public records, but medical information is protected. I think there WAS a line crossed when the employee gave out information gathered in a clinical setting. We all want to see celebrities face the same consequences as joe schmo when they break the law, but on the same token we should not condone behavior from medical staff publicizing treatment details just because of the celebrity status of the patient. We would not welcome that behavior regarding the treatment details and HIPPA violations toward anyone else.

    December 23, 2010 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply

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