Lead Poisoning Prevention
Privacy issues, especially regarding health data, are receiving greater awareness all the time. Privacy of health data is very important to the MDH lead program. Both state and federal laws are designed to protect individual’s privacy.
One important recent federal law is HIPAA, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This act includes the HIPAA Privacy Rule (Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information) that sets national minimal standards for protected health information.
Public health agencies that do not provide direct services, such as MDH, are not covered by HIPAA regulations.
Providers, clinics, and laboratories are covered by HIPAA, and in general, must receive patients’ consent to release private data. However, when required by law to provide data to public health agencies (as is the case with blood lead test results in Minnesota), they may report personal data without notification of the patient.
MDH treats our reported blood lead results as private/nonpublic data, and we have policies and procedures to ensure privacy is protected. We do not release personal information except to other public health agencies, or through special agreements that include privacy protection assurances.
Classified as private, "[the blood lead data] may only be used by the commissioner of health, the commissioner of labor and industry, authorized agents of Indian tribes, and authorized employees of local boards of health for the purposes set forth in this section" (Minnesota Statutes, section 144.9502, subd. 9). On a daily basis, state lead inspectors generate reports identifying children (0-72 months) and pregnant women with blood lead results of 20 ug/dL or above or 15.0-19.9 ug/dL for 90 days or more. This information is used for educational and lead assessment follow-up duties conducted by both state and local public health officials.
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