SPJ Lobbies for University of Kentucky to Release FOI-Requested Documents

The Society of Professional Journalists send a letter to the University of Kentucky last week, encouraging the school to turn over documents requested by WUKY reporter Brenna Angel about the director of its pediatric and congenital heart program.

From an SPJ release:

University officials, citing HIPAA, have denied Angel access to records on UK HealthCare’s cardiothoracic surgery program. UK HealthCare placed the program under review and no longer performs cardiothoracic operations on children.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office has stated that HIPAA does not preempt the Kentucky Open Records Act, but university officials refuse to comply with the law.SPJ calls on UK HealthCare and university officials to immediately release the records in question.

The full text of the letter sent by SPJ National President Sonny Albarado:

Dr. Eli Capilouto, President
Dr. Michael Karpf, Executive Vice President For Health Affairs
900 South Limestone
317 Wethington Building
Lexington, KY, USA 40536

Dear Dr. Capilouto and Dr. Karpf,

We are writing to you on behalf of the Society of Professional Journalists, the nation’s largest and most broad-based journalism organization, regarding WUKY reporter Brenna Angel’s request for university records .

We respectfully urge you to release to Angel the records she has requested concerning Dr. Mark Plunkett, Chief of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the director of the Pediatric and Congenital Heart Program.

Whereas those records are considered public under the Kentucky Open Records Act and are not preempted by HIPAA, there is no reason for the university not to release the records.

We understand that Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway’s office has issued an opinion to that effect.

We call on UK HealthCare and university officials to comply with the law and immediately release the records in question.

Linda Petersen
Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of Information Committee Chair

Sonny Albarado
Society of Professional Journalists National President