When ER-veteran George Clooney landed in an actual ER after a motorcycle crash last month, the last thing on his mind, no doubt, was the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
Known by the far catchier nickname HIPAA, the federal regulation is what’s behind those lengthy privacy forms your doctor has been making you sign every now and then for the past several years.
HIPAA, a notorious tangle of bureaucracy for the health care industry, not surprisingly was omitted from the flashy, action-packed world of medicine depicted in the hour-long NBC drama for which Clooney is best known.
But now that more than two dozen employees of Palisades Medical Center in New York have been suspended for violating the actor’s HIPAA-given rights to privacy after his biking spill, the actor seems to have become the face of a privacy regulation many Americans likely have never heard of.
The hospital employees were suspended for peeking into the actor’s medical records without permission, a HIPAA violation.
And now Clooney is appearing on various gossip and entertainment blogs and Web sites commenting about the incident. I’d say it’s a safe bet this is the first time HIPAA has been mentioned on TMZ.com or E! News online.
“While I very much believe in a patient’s right to privacy, I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers,” the actor said in a statement.
One key question remains — how many times will gossip columnists and bloggers misspell the acronym HIPAA in the next few days? (The Daily Record already has received one e-mailed news release on the Clooney debacle with the word “HIPPA” in the subject line.)
-KAREN BUCKELEW, Business Writer