Student Sues Hospital for Unauthorized Use of PHI as Teaching Tool

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A medical student is suing Marshall University and Cabell Huntington Hospital over the impermissible disclosure of some of his protected health information (PHI) to a class of students.

The student, who is identified as J.M.A in the lawsuit, claims his x-rays were used as a teaching tool by a professor at Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, but information identifying J.M.A. as the patient had not been removed or redacted from the images.

The matter had been brought to the attention of the university by another faculty member. On April 15, 2018, the dean of the medical school wrote to J.M.A to inform him of the privacy violation. The university was unaware that the professor was using the image as a teaching tool.

J.M.A. claims he has suffered shame, embarrassment, humiliation, and severe anxiety as a direct result of the disclosure of his identity. It is unclear how many people viewed J.M.A’s x-rays and how many of those individuals disclosed what they saw to others.

J.M.A is represented by Troy N. Giatras, Matthew W. Stonestreet, and Phillip A. Childs of The Giatras Law Firm, and is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

Three motions to dismiss the lawsuit have been submitted by the defendants Cabell Huntington Hospital; Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Marshall University Board of Governors; and Radiology Inc.

They are seeking to have the case dismissed as it was not filed in the proper venue and because they say the plaintiff failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted.

PHI Exposed in Break in at Pardee UNC Health Care

Pardee UNC Health Care is notifying certain patients that some of their PHI has potentially been compromised during a break in at its facility at 2029 Asheville Hwy, Hendersonville, NC. The break-in was discovered on May 9, 2019. Thieves gained entry to the basement of the building and stole electronic equipment.

No electronic protected health information was exposed as the computers did not have hard drives, but while searching the basement a stack of 590 Federal Drug Testing Custody and Control forms were found. The forms contained names, phone numbers, birth dates, social security numbers, employers’ name, driver’s license numbers, and results of the drug screening test and dated from October 2003 to December 2004.

Officials at Pardee did not find any evidence to suggest information had been viewed or stolen, but the stack of files had been moved to a place where they would have been in full view of the thieves as they entered the basement, so there is a possibility that PHI has been compromised.

All files have now been removed from the basement and are in a secure storage facility. Pardee UNC had previously stored paperwork in several locations. The paperwork has now been retrieved and been moved to a single, secure storage facility.

“We are reviewing existing employee training and record retention protocols and policies and will reinforce and revise as needed, said Jennifer Melia, Compliance & Privacy Officer for Pardee UNC Health Care.

UNC Health Care is offering 12 months of free credit monitoring protection services to affected individuals. It is unclear how many individuals have been affected.

Author: HIPAA Journal

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