(A) The director of health shall investigate or make inquiry as to the cause of disease or illness, including contagious, infectious, epidemic, pandemic, or endemic conditions, and take prompt action to control and suppress it. The reports of births and deaths, the sanitary conditions and effects of localities and employments, the personal and business habits of the people that affect their health, and the relation of the diseases of man and beast, shall be subjects of study by the director. The director may make and execute orders necessary to protect the people against diseases of lower animals, and shall collect and preserve information in respect to such matters and kindred subjects as may be useful in the discharge of the director's duties, and for dissemination among the people. When called upon by the state or local governments, or the board of health of a general or city health district, the director shall promptly investigate and report upon the water supply, sewerage, disposal of excreta of any locality, and the heating, plumbing, and ventilation of a public building.
(B) Information obtained during an investigation or inquiry that the director currently is conducting pursuant to division (A) of this section and that is not yet complete is confidential during the course of that investigation or inquiry and shall not be released except pursuant to division (D) or (J) of this section or under one of the following conditions:
(1) The confidential information is released pursuant to a search warrant or subpoena issued by or at the request of a grand jury or prosecutor, as defined in section 2935.01 of the Revised Code.
(2) The director has entered into a written agreement to share or exchange the information with a person or government entity, and that agreement requires the person or entity to comply with the confidentiality requirements established under this section.
(3) The information is contained in a preliminary report released by the director pursuant to division (G)(1) of this section.
(C) Division (B) of this section applies during any investigation or inquiry the director makes pursuant to division (A) of this section, notwithstanding any other provision of the Revised Code that establishes the manner of maintaining confidentiality or the release of information, except that the confidentiality and release of protected health information under section 3701.17 of the Revised Code is governed by that section.
(D) Nothing in this section bars the release of information that is in summary, statistical, or aggregate form and that does not identify a person. Information that is in summary, statistical, or aggregate form and that does not identify a person is a public record under section 149.43 of the Revised Code.
(E) Nothing in this section authorizes the director to conduct an independent criminal investigation without the consent of each local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction to conduct the criminal investigation.
(F) Except for information released pursuant to division (G) or (J) of this section, any disclosure pursuant to this section shall be in writing and accompanied by a written statement that includes the following or substantially similar language: "This information has been disclosed to you from confidential records protected from disclosure by state law. If this information has been released to you in other than a summary, statistical, or aggregate form, you shall make no further disclosure of this information without the specific, written, and informed release of the person to whom it pertains, or as otherwise permitted by state law. A general authorization for the release of medical or other information is not sufficient for the release of information pursuant to this section."
(1) If an investigation or inquiry the director currently is conducting pursuant to division (A) of this section is not completed within six months after the date of commencement, the director shall prepare and release a report containing preliminary findings. Every six months thereafter, the director shall prepare and release a supplementary preliminary report until such time as the investigation or inquiry is completed.
(2) Upon completion of an investigation or inquiry conducted pursuant to division (A) of this section, the director shall prepare and release a final report containing the director's findings.
(H) No report prepared by the director pursuant to this section shall contain protected health information, as defined in section 3701.17 of the Revised Code.
(I) The director shall adopt, in accordance with Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, rules establishing the manner in which the reports prepared by the director pursuant to this section are to be released.
(J) The director shall release information obtained during an investigation or inquiry that the director currently is conducting pursuant to division (A) of this section and that is not yet complete, if the director determines the release of the information is necessary, based on an evaluation of relevant information, to avert or mitigate a clear threat to an individual or to the public health. Information released pursuant to this division shall be limited to the release of the information to those persons necessary to control, prevent, or mitigate disease or illness.
Effective Date: 02-12-2004