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RE: The Effect of HIPAA on State Law - 42 USCS Section: 1320d-7 (2003)

To: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotic Registrants:

As you know, Oklahoma State Law authorizes the Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics (OBN) to perform administrative inspections of pharmacies and other registrants without a subpoena. This authority to make public health investigations is derived from Title 63 Public Health and Safety. HIPAA does not prevent OBN from performing this duty, nor does it require a subpoena for this information. The following section of HIPAA makes this clear:

 164.512 Uses and disclosures for which an authorization or opportunity to agree or object is not required.

A covered entity may use or disclose protected health information without the written authorization of the individual, as described in 164.508, or the opportunity for the individual to agree or object as described in 164.510, in the situations covered by this section, subject to the applicable requirements of this section. When the covered entity is required by this section to inform the individual of, or when the individual may agree to, a use or disclosure permitted by this section, the covered entity’s information and the individual’s agreement may be given orally.

(a) Standard: uses and disclosures required by law.

(1) A covered entity may use or disclose protected health information to the extent that such use or disclosure is required by law and the use or disclosure complies with and is limited to the relevant requirements of such law.

(2) A covered entity must meet the requirements described in paragraph (c),(e), or (f) of this section for uses or disclosures required by law.

(b) Standard: uses and disclosures for public health activities.

(1) Permitted disclosures. A covered entity may disclose protected health information for the public health activities and purposes described in this paragraph to:

(i) A public health authority that is authorized by law to collect or receive such information for the purpose of preventing or controlling disease, injury, or disability, including, but not limited to, the reporting of disease, injury, vital events such as birth or death, and the conduct of public health surveillance, public health investigations, and public health interventions; or, at the direction of a public health authority, to an official of a foreign government agency that is acting in collaboration with a public health authority;

This section obviously does not contain any language requiring a subpoena. In fact, this section clearly shows otherwise since requiring a subpoena would invalidate the authority and duty of OBN to make administrative inspections which have never required a subpoena.

It is a privilege to have an OBN narcotic registration that can be revoked for failing to provide records required to be kept via the Rules and Regulations of OBN and Title 63. It is also a crime to interfere with an investigation of an OBN Agent. If you have any questions or concerns, please e-mail Travis White, General Counsel, or Russ Cohran, Deputy General Counsel,