Health care industry’s use of biometrics at center of Illinois Supreme Court case


(The Center Square) – The Illinois Supreme Court is considering whether health care workers’ Biometric Information Privacy Act rights are violated by having to provide fingerprints to access patient medication from secure cabinets.

The court’s previous interpretation of BIPA, the law that allows legal action against entities for not getting consent when capturing and storing personal data such as fingerprints or face scans, has the business community looking for changes. A previous ruling could lead to business-bankrupting settlements, groups fear.

On Thursday, representing a hospital group being sued, attorney Bonnie Keane DelGobbo said the language of the Illinois law allows for biometrics to be used in patient care in conformity with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act carved out of BIPA.

“Health care providers’ use of automated dispensing cabinets to access medications and medical supplies to treat patients is unquestionably health care treatment under HIPAA,” DelGobbo said.

Attorney Jim Zouras, representing those suing Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, argued that if the health care industry is exempt as defendants’ claim, a large segment of Illinois’ workforce in hospitals have no BIPA rights.

“HIPAA has nothing to do with worker data,” Zouras said. “HIPAA has nothing to do with the rights of the employees or the rights of employers.”

Zouras said the HIPAA only applies to patient data, not health care employees.

The Illinois Supreme Court has taken the case, Lucille Mosby, Indv., etc., et al. v. The Ingalls Memorial Hospital, under advisement.

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