In light of the ongoing pandemic, emergency call centers (ECCs) and public safety answering points (PSAPs) are faced with the question of whether to screen callers for COVID-19. The benefits of this screening will protect first responders—but on the other hand, ECC/PSAPs are concerned that screening callers may raise legal issues.
TLPC student attorney Kelsey Fayer drafted a white paper addressing whether ECC/PSAPs need to comply with privacy laws. First, caller screening information, if it is voluntary, likely satisfies relevant compliance requirements. Second, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) likely does not apply to PSAP/ECCs regarding a caller’s COVID-19 status. Finally, PSAP/ECCs should work with local public health authorities to implement privacy best practices. The white paper includes a 50-state chart mapping current PSAP/ECC practices around screening callers and state health privacy laws that may be applicable to PSAP/ECC COVID-19 caller queries.