Thursday, October 04, 2012

Quarantine on Truth from State Health Department?

I live in Pea Ridge, and there were reports here recently about a middle school student who was displaying meningitis-like symptoms. The school cooperated fully and reported what they knew. Of course, parents were concerned. Now we are getting media reports that the meningitis theory was incorrect, the child's symptoms were the result of a non-contagious autoimmune system dysfunction. But a reliable source reports that the state health department will not clear the school to release the findings! 

I consider this to be an outrageous way to behave. Here we have parents who are worried that their children may have been exposed to a very dangerous and contagious disease, and the school knows that this is a false alarm, but are being banned by state health officials from making public this knowledge. I believe at the heart of the matter is a bureaucratic over-zealous interpretation of Federal HIPPA laws. 


These laws are designed to protect the confidentiality of medical information. That is well and good, but this case shows how blanket rules can backfire and do more harm than good. I believe a statement like the following is well within HIPPA, and that state officials should clear the school to make such a statement....



"We are not aware of any case of meningitis in our school system. We cannot comment on the health record of any individual, but every suspected case we are aware of has turned out to be a false alarm that did not involve any contagious disease."

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