New HIPAA rule considered: no direct eye contact with patients

Passed in 1996, the Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) was designed to protect insurance coverage for patients and provide a standard of privacy regarding the transfer of health information by providers, insurance plans and others. The law has been expanded over the years, and now Congressman Max Weber, Minnesota, has introduced new legislation making direct eye contact with patients by healthcare workers a violation of HIPAA.

“If you look directly at a patient, you may come to know them, know them personally,” said Weber during his 73-minute speech on the floor of the House of Representatives last Tuesday. “Where I come from, direct eye contact is awfully forward. It’s an invasion of privacy.”

The House Committee on Healthcare Reform will take up the matter in next week’s regularly scheduled committee meetings. The issue of how eye contact will be monitored and enforced was not addressed in Representative Weber’s bill.


  1. Baya Clare said:

    Uff da! The main problem with this story, as I see it, is that Minnesota has no Congressperson by the name of Max, or Weber, or Max Weber… :-)

  2. Christine said:

    Ooo… Is this another opportunity for me to sue for millions of dollars for no good reason at all? Great! Maybe I can get rich through the ambulance chasers after all! ;)

  3. Mark said:

    I think they’ve already adopted this policy at my clinic. Well, at least the girl at the front desk. I don’t think she’s ever looked at me. She just shoves that damn clipboard at me and tells me to bring it back when I’ve finished. I’m pretty sure the solitaire game she’s got going on her screen is part of the HIPAA policy to help ensure she doesn’t actually look at me.

    My doctor keeps his eyes down my throat with a tongue depressor in my mouth. Last visit I said “Ahhh” for fifteen minutes straight while he explained my new medications. As silly as it may have appeared, it was comforting to know he wasn’t invading my privacy. Thank you HIPAA!