And HIPAA does apply to deceased individuals. “It doesn’t matter whether a patient is dead or alive — the HIPAA and state privacy law protections still apply,” Stephen K. Phillips, a healthcare attorney in San Francisco, told me. “A deceased patient’s rights accrue to his/her legal representative for enforcement and redress purposes.”
At the same time, said Phillips, it’s possible that Jackson may have given Klein permission to discuss his PHI, or private health information, in public. In that case, Phillips said, “you haven’t violated the law by doing so, unless and until that authorization is withdrawn.” I tried to contact Klein to clarify these important points several times, but never received a response. His attorney didn’t get back to me either.