Silence Is Golden… Except in Health Care Philanthropy

Stacey A. Tovino*

 

Imagine a forty-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with stage IV colorectal cancer and who has less than a ten percent chance of living five years from the date of her diagnosis. The woman’s physician, who specializes in oncology and practices at a hospital affiliated with a major academic medical center, recommends a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation to treat the woman’s cancer. This article addresses the permissible scope of uses and disclosures of the woman’s individually identifiable health information that may be made by the hospital and the physician for the purpose of attempting to raise funds for the hospital’s own benefit.

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*Lincy Professor of Law, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Ph.D., University of Texas Medical Branch; J.D., University of Houston Law Center; B.A., Tulane University. I thank Nancy Rapoport, Interim Dean, and Daniel Hamilton, Dean, William S. Boyd School of Law, for their financial support of this research project. I also thank William J. Winslade (James Wade Rockwell Professor of Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch) for his comments on an earlier presentation of this article, and Jeanne Price (Director, Wiener-Rogers Law Library), Chad Schatzle (Student Services Librarian, Wiener-Rogers Law Library), Jennifer Gross (Reference and Collection Management Librarian, Wiener-Rogers Law Library), Bryn Esplin (3L and President, Health Law Society, Boyd School of Law), and Danny Gobaud (3L, Boyd School of Law) for their outstanding assistance in locating many of the sources referenced in this article. I further thank the participants of the 66th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Association of Law Schools in Palm Beach, Florida, for their helpful comments and suggestions on earlier presentations and versions of this article.