A federal class action lawsuit argues that New York State’s collection and sharing of confidential information gathered from mental health service providers about their patients is unconstitutional, reports Courthouse News Service. The state has been building a database of information about anyone that a mental health professional believes could potentially be a danger to themselves or others, which apparently now includes 60,000 people.
“Lead plaintiff Donald Montgomery claims the state created a reporting system, as part of the New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act (Safe Act), that forces health professionals to transmit mental health patients’ confidential information to a database shared by various government agencies, including law enforcement,” recounts Courthouse News. Montgomery reportedly states in the claim that he is a Navy veteran and retired police officer who was once admitted to a psychiatric hospital for 48 hours for sleep deprivation. He has had his right to own weapons revoked.
According to Courthouse News, Montgomery’s claim explains that New York’s “Mental Hygiene Law” compels health professionals to report patients’ data to the state “if they feel the patients’ actions are likely to result in serious harm to self or others.” The personal health information transmitted is then shared “by numerous agencies, including, but not limited to law enforcement and non-state agencies and offices… Neither the state nor the treatment providers notify patients about the information sharing.”
Patient Says NY Info-Sharing is Unconstitutional (Courthouse News Service, December 22, 2014)