If a crime or emergency occurs on the grounds of a medical facility, does HIPAA trump the news media’s right to access the location while emergency responders are in charge of the scene?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

There does not appear to be a case where HIPAA has been used to bar a journalist’s access to a crime or emergency scene. The issue of trespass would be the bigger issue if the incident occurred on private property. (See the FAQ “What rights do journalists have at accident or disaster scenes?”) Having said that, there have been cases of misinterpretation of HIPAA, and there have been instances of law enforcement and fire department personnel saying they can no longer release information once commonly disclosed. This may extend to denying access to a crime or emergency scene.