First, let it be said that as a nurse, I can see both sides of the issue. Hospitals in the United States are constantly operating about one month ahead of closure. One nasty malpractice suit, workers’ strike or cancellation of insurance company contract is all it takes to shut a hospital down for good. Equipment is in need of repair, salaries and rents drain available resources…and patients suffer.
That said; there is simply no excuse for releasing HIPAA & Privacy Act protected information on this kind of technicality. The patients are allowed to “opt out,” but only after the fact.
Bad enough so many insurance companies have sent their call centers offshore, often to countries with little to no laws regarding private information of patients. We in health care are in a privileged position; our patients trust us to care for them. Confidentiality is part of that trust.