The Kentucky Children's Hospital in Lexington, operated by the University of Kentucky, suspended its pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program in late 2012 and has been sending patients needing such treatment out of state ever since. A reporter at public radio station WKKY-FM wanted to know why and filed an open records request for documents related to the decision, but that request has been denied by the hospital, citing HIPAA regulations. The Kentucky Attorney General's office ruled that the records request trumps HIPAA in this case, and has asked to review the documents, but the University continues to refuse to release them.
RTDNA has issued a letter to the University's president, urging him to comply with the Attorney General's ruling:
April 15, 2013
Dr. Eli Capilouto
University of Kentucky
101 Main Building
Lexington, KY 40506
Dear Dr. Capilouto:
I am writing on behalf of the membership of the RTDNA, the nation’s largest professional association of electronic journalists. We are asking you to reconsider the University’s decision to withhold certain records of UK Healthcare pertaining to the pediatric heart surgery program at Kentucky Children’s Hospital, as requested by reporter Brenna Angel of WUKY-FM.
As you know, the Kentucky Attorney General, Jack Conway, has ruled the requested records are open and subject to review under the Kentucky Open Records Act. However, the University’s General Counsel, William Thro, later issued a statement, on April 12, 2013, in conflict with that ruling and denying public access to these records.
RTDNA understands the legal limitations associated with public inspection of healthcare records. Accordingly, we would ask the records be made available with personal information redacted, so as to comply with HIPPA and other applicable federal and/or state regulations.
Transparency is vital to an open society and that concept is recognized through the Kentucky Open Records Act and reaffirmed, in this case, by the state’s top-ranking legal officer. We believe an appropriate compromise can be reached which serves both the purposes of open records inspection and protection of patient confidentiality.
We urge you to act accordingly and in the best interests of all interested parties, including the people of the State of Kentucky, by releasing these records without further delay.
RTDNA Executive Director