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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 33762
Experience:  15 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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I am not sure if this fits in a HIPPA violation or not involving

Customer Question

I am not sure if this fits in a HIPPA violation or not involving a law enforcement agency. I was working as a paramedic in a small community outside of Houston. I had a severe amount of stress following the death of my father along with the extreme pressures of work and caring for my sick mother. This all resulted in me having extreme low blood sugar along with other contributing factors and found me disoriented and lost. I was in my car that became disabled and ended up lost in the woods. When I was trying to get help my text and phone messages caused others concern and lead to search and rescue mission. When my car was disabled I tried to find help by going thru a trail in a heavily wooded area to a street I think I believed was a gas station. I could not secure my car due to the loss of power so I carried a handgun that was in the car so that it would not be stolen. Once I was found after several hours I was taken to a psychiatric facility for treatment. It was soon noted there were other reasons causing me to act in a way I have never done before.

After I returned to work I learned a police officer had told a friend of mine that she needed to take out a restraining order on me. He told her that I had been arrested and admitted to the psychiatric facility. He has since gone on to say that I had made threats to him causing me to be terminated from my job. I feel he has crossed the line and divulged private information regarding my admission along with spreading lies that eventually resulted in my termination. I know as a paramedic I am not allowed to tell anyone anything about a patients condition including the police. How can this be different on their side?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Barrister replied 3 years ago.
Hello and thank you for using JA! My goal is to provide you with excellent service and help with your legal problem.
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I am sorry to hear about all of these factors that came together in one very bad combination.
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I know as a paramedic I am not allowed to tell anyone anything about a patients condition including the police. How can this be different on their side?
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The difference is that as a paramedic, you care considered a "health care provider" and as such are covered by HIPAA with regard to disclosing information about a patient. A police officer is not a health care provider and as such is not governed by HIPAA with regard to disclosing information about another party.
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Although it may not have been warranted, if you were wandering in the woods with a gun, and had made some type of threat that the officer heard, then he would have had a duty as a police officer to notify the potential victim of the threats. The officer would have had no way of knowing it was low blood sugar that was causing the problems and may have thought you were having some mental issues rather than health ones and that you were a real threat to the other person.
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But when someone is taken into protective custody and admitted to a hospital by the police, no duty of privacy or confidentiality attaches to those actions and they would not have been prevented from disclosing this to others. It might not have been justified and became a source of gossip, but it wouldn't have been illegal for the police officer to disclose this.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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