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Health Care Providers
According to A National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations, service providers should be able to explain to victims how confidentiality and privileged communications affect their medical records and forensic evidence collection. For example, when health care providers collect evidence and forensic information from victims who do not want to report to law enforcement, they typically hold evidence collection kits in a secure setting for a period of time. Patients' identity is not revealed to law enforcement. On the other hand, if victims share information with law enforcement officers, prosecutors, justice system-based advocates, and adult/child protective services workers, it is typically available to investigators and prosecutors and may be discovered by the defense (although prosecutors may ask the court to shield certain information from the defense, such as any history of prior pregnancies, abortions, and sexually transmitted infections).
In This Toolkit:
More information about confidentiality and about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), which protects individually identifiable health information created or held by health care providers, health insurance companies, and health clearinghouses, is found in the following sections of this toolkit: