The medical world surrounding Michael Jackson involved live-in cardiologists, traveling anesthesiologists, home IV poles and stockpiles of drugs that would be amazing for any ordinary human being and now after his death the way his medical history is being unearthed looks like some kind of a criminal investigation.
Last week, Dr. Arnold Klein, Michael Jackson’s Beverly Hills dermatologist, showed up on “Larry King Live.” and began by revealing personal details about his friendship with the singer. He then went on to divulge facts about Jackson that only a physician knows about a patient. He revealed that Jackson was diagnosed with Lupus and also that he was “rebuilding” Jackson’s face before his comeback concert. He admitted to providing Jackson with Demerol to sedate him.
Talking on Jackson’s drug addiction, he said, “Michael, at one time, had an addiction and he went to England and he withdrew that addiction at a secure setting, where he went off of drugs altogether. And what I told Michael when I met him in this present situation when I was seeing him, that I had to keep reducing the dosage of what he was on, because he came to me with a huge tolerance level.”
Now, this is just a plain and blunt violation of HIPAA. The fact becomes more ironical considering that on June 30, Klein’s attorney, Richard Charnley, released a statement requesting privacy that directly referenced HIPAA:
“Dr. Klein is aware of media reports connecting him to Michael Jackson. Because of patient confidentiality, Dr. Klein will make no statement on any reports or allegations. Out of respect for his patients and adherence to federal HIPAA regulations, Dr. Klein asks that the media not contact him or his patients, nor interfere with their medical treatments. Like millions of Michael’s fans around the world, Dr. Klein is saddened by Michael’s death and extends his condolences to the family.”
HIPAA laws forbid medical professionals from disclosing health information unless a patient provides consent to do so and it does apply to deceased individuals too.
“It doesn’t matter whether a patient is dead or alive — the HIPAA and state privacy law protections still apply,” Stephen K. Phillips, a healthcare attorney in San Francisco, says, “A deceased patient’s rights accrue to his/her legal representative for enforcement and redress purposes.”