HIPAA Did Not Preclude Psychotherapist from Reporting That 16-Year-Old Boy Saw Child Pornography on His Father's Home Computer

Developments in Mental Health Law, January 2006 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

HIPAA Did Not Preclude Psychotherapist from Reporting That 16-Year-Old Boy Saw Child Pornography on His Father's Home Computer


A sixteen-year-old boy disclosed to his psychotherapist that he saw (1) pornographic images of children on his father's computer at home and (2) his father sitting naked at his computer in front of a webcam. Although there was no indication the father had sexually abused his son, the psychotherapist reported the disclosure to law enforcement authorities, which ultimately led to the arrest of the father. The father asserted that this report violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and, thus, all evidence generated as a result of this report, including a search of the father's computer, should be suppressed.

A federal district court in Tennessee rejected the father's motion to suppress. First, the court ruled, the information disclosed by the psychotherapist did not fall within HIPAA's definition of protected "health information." The court noted that the privacy protections of HIPAA apply to "past, present or future physical or mental health or condition of an individual, the provision of health care to an individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to an individual." In contrast, the information conveyed by the psychotherapist pertained to the defendant's conduct in possessing and viewing child pornography and contained neither information about the physical or mental health treatment of her client nor medical or billing records.

Second, the court determined, even if the disclosure had contained protected health care information, HIPAA provides an exception that authorized this disclosure. The court cited a HIPAA provision that permits disclosure about an individual reasonably believed to be a victim of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence to a governmental authority to the extent the disclosure is expressly authorized by statute or regulation and the person providing the report believes, in the exercise of professional judgment, that the disclosure is necessary to prevent serious harm to the individual or other potential victims.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

HIPAA Did Not Preclude Psychotherapist from Reporting That 16-Year-Old Boy Saw Child Pornography on His Father's Home Computer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?