Local clinic’s CEO concerned over new state health dept. mandate
JACKSON, Tenn. — If you test negative for COVID-19, a local physician wants you to be aware of your personal medical information, because your information could still be reported to the state.
We spoke with Dr. Jimmy Hoppers of Physicians Quality Care, and he said the Tennessee Department of Health wants medical staff to turn over your information if you’ve tested for COVID-19, even if the test was negative.
Dr. Hoppers said about a week ago, employees with the Tennessee Department of Health reached out to him through email asking medical staff to turn over personal information of patients, even those who tested negative for COVID-19, or the clinic faces punishment.
“Where I draw the line is, if you don’t have it, they don’t need it,” Dr. Hoppers said.
“If we don’t protect your medical records, who is? We are the last line of defense. Your information is in my database. If they make me send it to Nashville, you don’t have any recourse,” Dr. Hoppers said.
Dr. Hoppers said the request comes after a mandate by the state department of health requiring that information from healthcare providers.
“The state health department has sent out a mandate under penalty of $500 a day fines and legal action and dismissal from the medicare and medicaid programs,” Dr. Hoppers said.
He said the clinic does not turn over the personal information of anyone else who comes in to test for something, if they test negative for it.
“We’re not disputing positive tests. We report positive tests for a lot of things. If you come in and test positive for HIV, that goes to the health department, it’s a reportable disease,” Dr. Hoppers said.
However, he said he’s willing to provide limited information on patients who are negative, such as age, and keeps the patient’s name anonymous.
“If they want to know that patient X who is 65 years old came in and tested negative, I’ll be happy to provide that,” Dr. Hoppers said.
According to the mandate, the department of health wants to use it for epidemiology purposes.
“Among other data, your name, address, phone number, you race, your sex, the test that was run, what doctor you saw, when you saw them, your patient ID number, what machine ran the test, and on and on and on,” Dr. Hoppers said, listing off the requested information.
“The government has no business getting into your private information when you do not have the disease. That’s it,” Dr. Hoppers said.
We reached out to the Tennessee Department of Health for comment, and we’re still waiting for a response.
Representative Chris Todd is also aware of the issue.