RE: Specimen containers and "confidentiality"

This just in from the College of American Pathologists at
with a link to the actual Federal scripture:

Final Privacy Rule Eases Burden on Pathologists 

>>A recently released final regulation on medical records privacy defines 
pathologists as "indirect treatment providers" who do not have to obtain 
consent to use or disclose protected health information for treatment, 
payment and health care operations.
The definition in the final privacy standards represents a change from an 
earlier proposed rule and removes a potentially burdensome compliance 
standard and barrier to quality care.
In another area of interest to laboratories, the final rule requires clinical 
laboratories to disclose test results or reports only to authorized 
individuals, as defined by state law. If a state does not define the term, 
the federal law defines it as the person who orders the test.<<

About the specimen container: just the fact that the patient is in the 
hospital or has undergone a surgical procedure is potentially confidential 

Here's a horror story that I'm pretty sure is not an "urban legend" - 
according to one of the PATHO-L contributors, anti-abortion crazies in the 
Houston area look for fetuses in hospital trash, in order to harass the 
mothers - as determined by the container label! (Can you imagine a grieving 
parent having to put up with THAT!)

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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