Tribune Print Share Text

Health Privacy Act and the Travolta Tragedy

Created date

January 6th, 2009

The loss of a child, or any family member, is a tragedy to the involved family. ' In 1996, the Federal Government passed a law, HIPAA,HealthInsurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 to protect the privacy of health information and keep it from being disseminated publicly. It was designed to protect your civil rights as it relates to your personal health. Yet, the death of Jett Travolta has evoked media coverage that belies this privacy right of Jett and his family.Interviews with health EMT (emergency response technicians), the funeral home to get the diagnosis off the death certificate, all done to publicly defy the civil right of a minor and his family. Frankly, it's none of our business what happened to Jett. It's up to his parents now if they want to share information. The fact that his parents are in the media is no excuse for the behavior of the media to dissect and pontificate on this child's care and health matters. Where is the HIPAA agency in all this? Where is the rational, objective media on this? ' This is a personal tragedy for the family, not a public commentary. I hope this becomes a case for review of the HIPAA laws and punishment for those who spoke out publicly in a very private matter. For the purpose of health information and education, the reader should understand that there are a number of causes of Grand Mal Seizures (sometimes their cause is unknown). They result from electical misfiring in the brain. In and of itself, repeated Grand Mal Seizures can be fatal. The force of these types of seizures are very strong resulting in injuries and, as stated, death. Medication may or may not help, particularly in a growing adolescent. So much said in this case; so much inuendo related to this family's religious belief. We live in a country where freedom of religion is a right. So is health privacy.