Flu Outbreak Causing HIPPA Woes in Arkansas

December 31, 2003 - Posted at 8:33 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The flu outbreak is causing problems for Arkansas health officials, who are limiting what they will say about deaths from the disease's current outbreak.

A new federal medical privacy law carries the prospect of $10,000 fines if they say too much.

At least one other state, Iowa, is taking a similar hard line on its interpretation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPPA.  The law, which took effect in April, requires health providers, insurance companies and pharmacies to limit disclosures of patient medical information.

This flu season is the first time since HIPPA began that states are being forced to navigate the letter of the law while still warning the public about a serious health threat.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)