Privacy act hinders news

Published 8:02 am Monday, August 7, 2006

By Staff
I hope it never happens to you. Getting information from a hospital on the condition of someone hurt in an accident can be tough.
Car accidents have been responded to by police departments, sheriff's departments, highway patrols, fire trucks, ambulances and rescue vehicles much too frequently for my comfort lately.
Wednesday's edition of The Standard told of a handful of accidents that occurred in one day and that's just the one's in the Brewton area. The story didn't cover any accidents outside the immediate area. If it had, the story would have consumed more than four or five pages of news space.
Some accidents leave victims with a few cuts and scrapes and maybe even some heavy bruising. If you have those kinds of injuries, count yourself lucky.
Other accident victims are fortunate enough to have a band-aid slapped on a small cut and sent home with an aspirin.
Over the past two weeks, I can recall two accidents that required a huge amount of medical care for victims. One lady, who was in an accident about two weeks ago, remains in the hospital. Her condition is improving and for that we are thankful. She continues to overcome a serious head injury and is making wonderful progress.
Still, she has a way to go to before being released to her family for at-home care. In an accident that took place just last weekend, one victim was taken to a local hospital where doctors felt it necessary to transfer him to a larger hospital for extensive treatment necessary for his injuries.
Since the passing of the HIPPA, required health care providers, including nurses, hospital staff and administration and physicians are required to withhold information regarding the medical condition of a patient unless written consent to release information is given.
That certainly put a dent in the follow-up in the newspaper that folks would like after learning that a friend, relative or acquaintance has been injured in an accident.
We'd like to report to our readers who &#8220got along” after an accident. Fact is, in a town the size of Brewton/East Brewton, everyone kind of knows everyone. But the truth is we don't have the means, short of speaking to a family member, of relaying that follow-up information to you.
So, for the time being, we'll tell you about an accident here and there, as time and space permits, but the follow-up information will be up to the interested individuals.
Lisa Tindell is a news writer for The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at

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