Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

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Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby quemo246 on Mon Jun 22, 2015 8:36 pm

I've been an injured worker since 2013 and I've had 4 surgeries on both my wrists in the last year. I think I am done with the surgeries. Since I cannot do the essential job duties of my work which is typing I was fired. I do have long term disability thru my work so I guess I can rely on that. But, lets say if I did want to try something different in the future (that doesn't require typing), how can I apply to a job knowing that anyone off the street can pull up my name and they are shown my injured body parts without my knowledge or consent? How does that help me in the job market. And, HIPPA was formed to protect my (as well as yours) civil rights to privacy. It's a federal law and state law should not lessen my HIPPA rights according to the constitution.

In the meantime, I've filed a civil rights complaint with the health and human services. So, I just wanted someone else's take on this question.

Thanks,
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Re: Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby Barney5 on Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:41 am

In my opinion EAMS to too available to the public. I agree with you on this. It is illegal for employers to do background checks to review prior work comp claims... but is there any way to know if they are checking EAMS or any agency who is protecting people against this? HIPPA law creates a right to privacy, but it doesn’t create a right to sue. And even if you could sue, the law has limits. Only certain entities are covered. I am interested in what happens with your complaint to the Department of Health and Human Services. The most they can do is assign fines and the requirement that the entity correct their procedures so it doesn’t happen again.

There is something more upsetting to me than EAMS. There are companies, insurance exchanges who track information on those who have filed workers compensation as well as other claims. Insurance companies provide these companies with information and it is shared. This is not something legally that should be checked in employment background checks, but many employers do this type of background check. I was told most large companies do this type of background check. This was the topic of discussion on another forum, and the injured worker who was inquiring about it was told not to apply at fortune 500 companies, and they should be fine.

If you have not done so already, I would recommend applying for your LTD as there may be time limits to apply. Not all LTD policies cover work related injuries. Usually the LTD carrier will require you to apply for SSDI at some point, to offset what they pay to you. Some polices read own occupation while others state ANY occupation. All LTD policies are different and I recommend requesting a complete copy of your LTD policy. If you get a denial contact an ERISA attorney ASAP.
Last edited by Barney5 on Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:58 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby vampireinthenight on Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:48 am

Interesting question. I can see your concern.

EAMS would not create a file on you unless an application was filed with the WCAB, however, you never know when you might have an application filed. I guess the short answer here is that when you file a claim against another, you inherently waive some degree of privacy. In a disability claim, that will necessarily involve some medical information. Also, remember, EAMS may be a lot easier to use, but historically (pre-EAMS) there would have been a physical file at the WCAB with the same information.
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Re: Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby Barney5 on Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:05 am

Couldn't they place some safeguards on EAMS to restrict access such as implementing codes for access that coincide with the injured workers claim and only those involved with the claim, AA, IW, lien reps etc would have access? It is so easy for anyone to review information on EAMS.

I think most people would not want their info so public, especially things like psych claims that are also visible on EAMS.
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Re: Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby LawAdvocate on Tue Jun 23, 2015 4:09 pm

HIPPA is not applied to workers' compensation cases. EVER. Medical privacy is pretty void to the parties to your workers' compensation case, as multiple parties need the medical reporting to secure reimbursement for costs and to proceed with the legal end.

Not just anyone off the street can pull the entire EAMS file, say you have an unusual name and an employer types it in as part of the hiring process, all they can see it is you that filed. You have to be a party to the case to pull any documents, so no harm no foul. All they can see is you filed an injury, not if you prevailed or any specifics. So I disagree any privacy rights are violated. If you filed a case, that is public record, just like in the civil arena, those cases are public record.
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Re: Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby Barney5 on Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:11 pm

Hi Lawadvocate you wrote some good points. HIPPA is void when it comes to those involved with a workers compensation case, but it is not void for everyone else.

When I have gone into EAMS I can see some personal info like body parts that have been filed. I think most importantly anyone can check to see if the person has filed a workers compensation claim. I do not think the concern is with those involved with the injured workers claim viewing EAMS.The injured worker wrote in his question his concerns about it being viewed by prospective employers and I agree. This falls under HIPPA (IMO).

Legally employers should not be doing background checks for past workers compensation claims, but there is no way to know if the employer did view this. It is known many employers are checking for past workers compensation claims and the EAMS system has made it easier for them. This can lead to discrimination during pre-employment background checks and why it is worrisome for injured workers.

It would be nice if EAMS could only be viewed by those involved directly in a claim, and perhaps close EAMS info in a case after it has been settled. This would be my recommendation, if I had any say which I do not.
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Re: Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby quemo246 on Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:26 am

Of course I do appreciate the ease of which the parties of my workers compensation claim can access the desired information. This probably does streamline the process. However, what bothers me is that anyone, even Joe Blow
down the street can put in only my name and see which body part I am filing on. And what my last city and state I lived
in if I choose to move and start over. It also will show to any Joe Blow what status my claim in. Things like if I filed with the
courts and whether or not I stipulated with award. I never gave my consent for this. So if if filed 20 years ago with a broken wrist that would show an injured wrists. And it shows the wrist finger and upper extremity claim I currently have 20 years later. What's even more interesting is that the eams system fails to show the 2007 knee claim I had. Talk about discriminatory. It wouldn't take much for any prospective employer to go there first and see my history of possible injuries even if I do ever recover instead of looking at my current capabilities. This is blatant discrimination. The federal hippa laws is clear about the rules. Although whether or not they have jurisdiction over the state of calif industrial relations board is another thing. They should at least investigate. I do have long term disability that was accepted and I'm currently receiving. However they will certainly review this periodically. Since then I had to move into a place where my payments are half of what I was paying just in case. It's a nice house close to my family which is important right now. So what my scenario will tell you is that it's really not in the workers interest to file workers comp yet the state will force the doctors to do so by law. There's no getting around this. This would be ok if it would Not lead to discrimination later.
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Re: Does the EAMS system violate my HIPPA constitutional rights?

Postby lkcisneros on Fri Jul 24, 2015 11:24 pm

I'm not a lawyer or in the legal profession but this question fascinated me because it relates to a concern I have long had. When I worked as a paramedical examiner doing physical exams for life insurance companies, I learned what the MIB (Medical Information Bureau?) does and how ANY medical treatment received is freely shared amongst insurance companies. As I recall, it didn't matter if it was something paid by insurance or the patient paid out of pocket, it is all reported to the MIB (with the workaround being a false name and paying cash). I feel like it is one thing for my doctor to know everything but
information regarding things I don't use insurace to pay for should not be available to anyone but my doctor.
With employers accessing so many databases as part of the hiring process it's become even more worrisome. This has been a pet peeve for a long time so thanks for the chance to rant.

Next time your signing paperwork at a new doctor or at the ER, read it carefully!

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