The American Hospital Association called on HHS’ Office of Civil Rights to rule on the association’s position that a plan by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations to gather certain hospital data violates patients’ privacy protections in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. AHA legal staff, outside legal counsel and the AHA’s chief liaison with the JCAHO met with the HHS office Wednesday.
The association has asked the JCAHO to abandon its plan to sell the data analyses through a for-profit subsidiary. AHA spokesman Richard Wade said the association would post a legal opinion supporting its position on its Web site today. “We could file a complaint, but we don’t want to be as confrontational as we could be here. But the Joint Commission is where it is and we’re going to keep our members apprised,” Wade said. JCAHO President Dennis O’Leary said the accrediting organization would never violate HIPAA privacy provisions and, in addition, has yet to decide whether to ask hospitals for patient-specific data. The JCAHO board will consider a policy on data collection and use at its board meeting mid-month, O’Leary said.