New York Legislation Stops the Selling of Patient Information by First Responders to Third Parties

S.4119/A.230 is a new legislation signed into law on October 7, 2019 by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. This law forbids first response and ambulance service employees to sell or share patient information to third parties for the purpose of marketing or raising money.

New York Assembly Member Edward Braunstein originally introduced the bill in 2014 after getting information that ambulance and first response service employees sold patient information including names, addresses, telephone numbers and healthcare histories to third parties, for example, pharmaceutical companies and nursing homes for the purpose of advertising and fundraising. Before the signing of the new law, such disclosures and selling of patient data were allowed in New York.

Braunstein explained that patients’ data should not be marketed to pharmaceutical firms, insurance providers, nursing homes, or other enterprises because of privacy rights.

The legislation comes after the signing into law of the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data Security (SHIELD) Act on June 25, 2019, which reworked the state laws on data privacy and security to effectively safeguard the personal data of residents in New York.

The new legislation is applicable to ambulance employees and first responders. It does not cover healthcare providers, medical insurance providers, and parties operating under proper legal authority, including law enforcement and government health inspectors. Patient data may be shared, transmitted, or sold to the patient who is the data subject or an individual authorized to decide the health care for the patient.

Ambulance employees and first responders are just allowed to sell, divulge, transfer, trade, or use patient information for advertising or fundraising purposes when they have acquired written permission from the patient involved before the purchase or disclosure. The new legislation is not applicable to de-identified patient information.

The new legislation is applicable to all individually identifying data which will make it possible for a patient to be recognized. Marketing is categorized as, but not restricted to, “advertising, marketing, detailing, promotion, or any task that is meant to be or may be employed to have an impact on business volume, market share or sales, or examine the efficiency of marketing practices or employees, and is applicable to the purchase or sharing of patient information to for-profit, non-profit, and governmental agencies.

New Yorkers have privacy rights when it comes to their sensitive information especially their health records. This law imposes clear regulations so that patient data isn’t sold or employed for advertising purposes and doesn’t fall in the wrong hands. Anyone in the middle of a life-threatening situation, should by no means worry that their information is being sold for whatever reason.