Wisconsin's Open Records Law Trumps Secrecy


 
 

| Tuesday, April 1, 2008


MILWAUKEE -- Some local authorities are hiding behind a federal law the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to deny the public access to ambulance reports, despite the fact that state and federal authorities say the public has the right to see those reports.

Those local authorities need to wake up.

The local authorities in question say they have to do more research into the matter, in the meantime keeping the reports closed to the public and withholding the names and addresses of those who required medical help in ambulance calls.

But there is no need for further research. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has said that denying the public access to the reports violates the state's open records law, and federal authorities have ruled that the state open records law supersedes the federal law.

The value of that access was illustrated by the case that drew Van Hollen's opinion. As the Journal Sentinel's Darryl Enriquez noted in a recent article, the Waukesha Fire Department blacked out almost the entire incident report on an ambulance call to treat a suspected drunken mail carrier who crashed his government vehicle (www.jsonline.com/728803). Van Hollen said he wrote the opinion because HIPAA was being misinterpreted statewide with regularity.

According to Steve Dzubay, a newspaper publisher in the River Falls and Hudson area, the misinterpretation is still going on, despite the attorney general's opinion. Dzubay told Enriquez that he wants to run weekly lists of ambulance calls that contain time, date, place and circumstance and name, age and gender of the person who was transported.

"I'm stymied and really kind of frustrated," Dzubay said.

He shouldn't be. Local authorities in those areas and elsewhere should review again Van Hollen's opinion and the state's open records law and then side with the public.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Legal and Ethical, Operations and Protcols

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

 

 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Abilene Loses Helicopter Service

Native Air leaves city with only one air helicopter service.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Fire Chief Proposes another Controversial Ambulance Plan

Staffing change will leave immediate neighborhood without fire apparatus.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

FDIC 2014 CHAT: MIKE MCEVOY AND A.J. HEIGHTMAN

Mike McEvoy and A.J. Heightman discuss some new EMS technology at FDIC 2014.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

D.C. Lieutenant in Patient Death May Go Unpunished

Family upset that officer in charge may retire without any discipline.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >