For more information on Genesee Valley Region Legal issues, contact our Legal Advisor:
Henry Williams, Jr.
The Region By-laws are
WHO’S AFRAID OF A HIPAA?
Who’s afraid of a HIPAA? We are ski patrollers; we are faster than a down hill ski racer; we are more powerful than a snow cat; we are able to jump over high mountains in a single bound; then why should we be scared of a HIPAA? HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. It is an Act of Congress whose purpose is to
Recently, Bruce Reis, our National legal counsel, and our beloved national chairman (come on, you remember – his name is Bill Sachs), wrote an article on HIPAA which was recently printed in Ski Patrol Magazine (see link to the article below). The article should be read carefully. The article represents the official position of NSP.In addition to the article, the lawyers in the Eastern Division Legal Committee have performed their own investigation of HIPAA and, with the help of John Houston, an attorney whose legal practice involves interpreting and applying HIPAA, have come up with the following additional information:
My resort operates a medical clinic that must comply with HIPAA, does this mean that my patrol must also comply with HIPAA? No. But, your patrol should be careful that it distinguishes its operations from those of the clinic. This includes making sure that the clinic is physically separate from the patrol operations (though they can be within a common building), so that the public is able to differentiate between patrol operations and clinic operations. Additionally, the patrol should request that the clinic states within its “Notice of Privacy Practices” (a document that the clinic would provide to each of its patients) that the clinical is separate from and not affiliated with the patrol.
My patrol is not associated with a resort, what should I do? While the recent Ski Patrol Magazine article focused on issues related to “resort associated” patrols, some patrols have no resort association. In this case, the patrol itself may need to assess whether HIPAA applies to it. To do so, you should first ask “does the patrol electronically bill insurance companies for medical services that it renders to injured skiers?” If you answered “no”, then HIPAA simply does not apply.
However, if your patrol provides services to any area, such as a state park, remember that it should find out how the area it patrols has decided to handle HIPAA in that HIPAA decisions remain an area decision and concern, even if the “area” is not a ski resort.
What if my patrol simply charges patients for such things as “ACE” bandages or crutches? If such supplies are provided on a cash basis (or even if you accept credit cards), then HIPAA would not apply. HIPAA only applies to organizations that electronically bill insurance companies for services.
What if my patrol accepts donations from “grateful patients”? Donations are not considered compensation and would not trigger any HIPAA obligation by the patrol.
I have reviewed the above and I believe that HIPAA may apply to my non-resort associated patrol, now what should I do? You should seek further advice from your Region’s Legal Advisor.
So, go ahead and enjoy patrolling. Follow what your ski area says with respect to the application of HIPAA to your patrolling activities and, generally, do not worry; that is not a HIPAA coming down the mountain after you.
John Houston and Bill Cline, both of the Western Appalachian Region, contributed to providing the Division with information on HIPAA. John Houston is a patroller at Seven Springs Ski Area and is also the Director of Information Services, Privacy Officer and Assistant Counsel to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He deals with HIPAA matters in the course of his legal practice. Bill Cline is the Regional legal advisor for the Western Appalachian Region. For their help on this issue, the Division thanks them.
Recently, many patrollers have expressed significant concern about their responsibilities under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, a federal law that includes complex provisions for patient privacy. The reason people are talking about this now is because full compliance with the act was required by April 14, 2003. Since that date passed quietly around the time of many ski areas’ final day last season, many people are looking ahead to the coming season and wondering how HIPAA will affect them. For the rest of the article addressing this issue on the NSP web site, click here:
On the Legal Front
There are many risks that we patrollers face in doing our jobs. Some we can prevent by using the ten commandments of skiing or donning rubber gloves. Others require a bit more foresight. For example, we should make sure through our patrol representative that our area has appropriate liability coverage which will provide us with a defense lawyer, if necessary, and money coverage for liability, if any, arising out of our work. This is particularly true of the Nordic patrollers who usually patrol in several areas.
We should talk to our own insurance agent to make sure that our homeowners policy fills any gaps that may exist in coverage provided by our area. There is a memorandum in the ski patrollers manual called “Legal Issues and Risk Management” which has just been rewritten by our new National Chairman, Bill Sachs, and our new National Legal Counsel, Bruce Ries. This deserves your attention. The first two paragraphs talk about the sources of the written material available to you.
The third paragraph begins the substantive part.
If you have any questions about this, give me a ring at 585-889-3000.
Henry W. Williams, Jr.
NSP Member Personal Risk Management
The NSP Board of Directors and the National Legal Committee feel it is very important to continue to provide members with the personal risk management information to assist individuals in assessing and dealing with the possibility of injury or involvement in litigation as a consequence of their patrolling services. This letter will discuss some of the inherent risks in being a patroller and identify some of the risk management resources available to patrollers.
This is not a new subject, suddenly discovered as a consequence of the Kane lawsuit. NSP publications have long provided risk management information for the member. Chapter 6 of the current (fourteenth edition) <i”>Ski Patroller’s Manual is entitled <i”>“Legal
In addressing risks involved in patrolling it is helpful to look at the role played