P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2001
AUSTIN - The Texas House today gave preliminary approval to the Texas Medical Privacy Act (SB 11) authored by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, to prevent the release of medical information without a patient's consent. The bill must be read and approved a third time in the House before returning to the Senate with amendments.
"Both chambers of the Legislature have now agreed that we need comprehensive medical privacy protections in Texas. This is a milestone for patient privacy in the information age, and I am so proud of this body for doing what is right for the people of Texas," Senator Nelson said. "It has been a tough road, but in the end it came down to the basic principles of right and wrong. It is not unreasonable to ask that our most sensitive medical information be handled with care and that lists of patients not be blasted out into cyberspace as a potential client base. We are not talking about the list of people who receive a Sear's Christmas catalog every year. This is highly sensitive information, and it should be treated as such."
- Prevents the transfer of patient data from health entities to marketing or advertising entities without consent.
- Directs the Texas Department of Insurance to adopt rules consistent with federal guidelines governing the release of patient specific data by health plans and insurance companies.
- Gives patients the right to know how entities use their medical information in the form of an easy-to-understand public notice.
- Establishes privacy standards for medical research efforts.
- Authorizes the Texas Attorney General's Office to impose administrative penalties up to $250,000 per violation.
- Gives individuals the right sue to stop the release of information and seek injunctive relief but not punitive damages.
- Gives patients the right to inspect their medical records and provides a mechanism to correct errors in their files.