Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. Final Privacy Rule Preamble.. Federal Rules of Evidence

12/28/2000

Comment: Many comments requested clarification that the privacy regulation does not conflict or interfere with the federal or state privileges. In particular, one of these comments suggested that the final regulation provide that disclosures for a purpose recognized by the regulation not constitute a waiver of federal or state privileges.

Response: We do not intend for the privacy regulation to interfere with federal or state rules of evidence that create privileges. Consistent with The Uniform Health-Care Information Act drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, we do not view a consent or an authorization to function as a waiver of federal or state privileges. For further discussion of the effect of consent or authorization on federal or state privileges, see preamble discussions in §§ 164.506 and 164.508.

Comment: Other comments applauded the Secretary's references to Jaffee v. Redman, 518 U.S. 1 (1996), which recognized a psychotherapist-patient privilege, and asked the Secretary to incorporate expressly this privilege into the final regulation.

Response: We agree that the psychotherapist-patient relationship is an important one that deserves protection. However, it is beyond the scope our mandate to create specific evidentiary privileges. It is also unnecessary because the United States Supreme Court has adopted this privilege.

Comment: A few comments discussed whether one remedy for violating the privacy regulation should be to exclude or suppress evidence obtained in violation of the regulation. One comment supported using this penalty, while another opposed it.

Response: We do not have the authority to mandate that courts apply or not apply the exclusionary rule to evidence obtained in violation of the regulation. This issue is in the purview of the courts.