Let HFD know if exit doors are kept locked
While shopping, I've noticed some stores have "EXIT" doors locked during business hours. More specifically, doors that have lit exit signs are bolted shut. In most cases this leaves only one exit in case of fire. It could lead to a major disaster if a fire breaks out and customers run to a door with a red exit sign only to find that it is locked. Is this a violation of the Fire Code? If so, where can it be reported?
Answer: The best thing to do is to call the Honolulu Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau, said HFD spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada.
Call either 723-7161 or 723-7162 with specific information and inspectors can determine whether there is any violation, he said.
Q: Thank you for an interesting column (Kokua Line , Oct. 29) on the privacy of medical records. However, you left some doubt about whether nonelectronic records are covered by federal privacy law. They are. Can you please clarify this so that people know HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) has several parts with different purposes?
A: You're correct that "the privacy protections are not limited to records in electronic format," said Tena Friery, research director for the nonprofit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.
The explanation "is a bit lengthy and complicated," she said. She provided background about HIPAA, which was passed by Congress in 1996.
As noted, "the law has different components, one of which is portability of medical benefits," Friery explained. "The law also has a privacy component which required Congress to pass medical privacy legislation, and if Congress failed to act, the Department of Health and Human Services was required to write privacy regulations."
That's what happened in April 2003.
"The confusion stems from the fact that what has come to be known as HIPAA is the regulation" on privacy set by the department, Friery said. "We don't hear much about the HIPAA law itself."
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the privacy rule covers health plans, health care clearinghouses and "health care providers who conduct certain financial and administrative transactions electronically."
So, the rule would apply to "a health care provider who transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction covered (by the rule)," such as health care claims, payments, etc., Friery said.
"None of this means that the records covered by the privacy rule we call HIPAA have to be in electronic format," Friery said. "It covers records in any format. But, to be subject to the privacy rule a health care provider must transmit health information in electronic format."
Friery said this is just another example of how complicated the issue of medical privacy is.
"In the end, most experts believe that most traditional health providers, e.g. doctors, dentists, hospitals, etc., are covered by HIPAA," she said.
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