Policy Statement Addresses Child Abuse, Neglect Issues

Authors urge pediatricians to be aware of laws concerning disclosure
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Dec. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Pediatricians should be aware of their legal rights and responsibilities when child abuse or neglect is suspected in a clinical setting, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement published online Dec. 21 in Pediatrics.

Carole Jenny, M.D., chairperson of the Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect, and colleagues present an overview of the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and regulations affecting pediatricians.

The committee urges pediatricians to familiarize themselves with state laws concerning disclosure of a child's protected health information, and know when HIPAA or state laws take precedence. The committee also reminds pediatricians of their duty to report protected health information to Child Protective Services and/or law enforcement when abuse or neglect is suspected. They further recommend that pediatricians attempt to inform parents of disclosures unless doing so could result in danger to the child.

"HIPAA privacy rules apply to physicians of record," the authors write. "If a physician reviews records made by another health care professional to assist in the investigation of child abuse or neglect or to contribute to a child abuse case review related to public health matters or surveillance, it does not require authorization from the child's legal guardian."

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