The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA)
In a nutshell, for the Average Joe in the USA, HIPAA is what’s keeping your medical information private, in addition to the “portability” aspect of being able to change jobs and keep the same insurance. There are strict provisions on who your information can be released to, and how/when it is released.
Suffice it to say that if you called the local hospital information desk and asked how someone was doing, they can’t just say “Oh, Mary’s doing fine after her hysterectomy” without knowing that you somehow have a right to this information, primarily by either being Mary, or her parent.
So, the question is - on every medical reality TV show, there seems to be an obligatory shot of the “board” in the program, especially if the program is based on emergency medicine - the ER or ICU itself, or the paramedics / EMTs. On this board are patient names, their doctors and their symptoms / complaints. Is this legal?