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

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

NYC September 11 Commemoration

Tolling of the bell begins the anniversary ceremony.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wrong Fuel Cited in New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

Plane received jet fuel instead of aviation fuel.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wake County EMS PAT

Physical ability test demonstration.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

13th Anniversary of Sept. 11 Terror Attack

The nation remembers the fallen.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Building Explosion, Collapse in Paris Suburb

Death toll rises to eight after blast in Rosny-sous-Bois.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

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


Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

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


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >