A federal law called HIPAA requires anyone who has access to your medical records to keep them confidential – including doctors, nurses, hospitals, insurance companies, and pharmacies. People who violate the law can face penalties from the government.
Recently, though, some courts have also allowed the victims – people whose information was improperly disclosed – to sue for damages.
For instance, a Walgreens pharmacist, AW, improperly accessed a patient’s records and allegedly disclosed them to her husband. The patient, AH, was the husband’s ex-girlfriend, with whom he had a child. The pharmacist apparently found information about whether the ex-girlfriend had a sexually transmitted disease and whether she stopped taking birth control pills shortly before becoming pregnant.
According to the ex-girlfriend, the husband threatened to reveal the information to her family unless she dropped her paternity suit, and eventually did tell several people, with the result that her father found out.
The Indiana Court of Appeals approved a jury award of more than $1 million against Walgreens for the incident.
In another case, EB specifically asked her gynecologist not to provide her personal medical information to a man she was involved with. But when the man’s lawyers served the gynecology practice with a subpoena during a paternity suit, the practice handed over the records – without telling EB or informing the judge in the case.
The Connecticut Supreme Court said that Byrne could sue the medical practice for money damages for the breach of confidentiality.
If you’ve experienced an injury, loss or mishandling of information, call us at 864.233.7200 or 1.800.903.8101 for a free telephone consultation.