Hospital Sued Over Patient Records Posted on Facebook
A patient is suing a hospital for posting her patient records on Facebook, after her sensitive information appeared on a Facebook page called "Team No Hoes."
Shawntelle Turley was treated at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center (UCMC) for syphilis, but she likely never imagined that her medical bills and diagnosis would be shared on Facebook. According to the The Cincinnati Enquirer, Turley's ex-boyfriend and at least two UCMC employees are also being sued for releasing her medical info on Facebook.
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Diagnosis Posted to 'Team No Hoes'
Turley's lawsuit claims that a screen shot of her medical records -- including her name and syphilis diagnosis -- was posted to the closed-member Facebook group "Team No Hoes" in September. After UCMC learned of the Facebook leak, the hospital fired Ryan Rawls, who is alleged to have used his access to patient records for personal reasons.
Medical privacy laws, covered federally by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), prevent doctors from sharing patients' medical information when it is not necessary for the patients' care. There are some exceptions when state or local laws require reporting injuries or illnesses to the government, but typically third parties cannot receive your medical records when attached to any personal identifying information.
Much like employers are allowed to read employees' emails if there is a legitimate business purpose, hospital employees may have access to patient files in order to perform their jobs. In this case, however, Turley claims that Rawls and another hospital employee were using their access to her files as a way of helping her ex-boyfriend exact revenge.
This sort of snooping and publishing of private information is certainly illegal, and the reason why anti-"revenge porn" laws exist.
Suing for Medical Record Disclosure
The Enquirer reports that Turley is suing the hospital and the three alleged perpetrators of the Facebook scheme for more than $25,000 for "invasion of privacy, emotional distress, malice, and negligence."
If you have had your medical records improperly disclosed, you may want to take the following steps:
- Report the disclosure to the medical provider and request an investigation from the Department of Health and Human Services; and/or
- Contact a health care lawyer in your area to discuss how to proceed.
You should never have to bear seeing your medical information, no matter how mundane, appear on Facebook without your permission.
- Hospital accused of posting sensitive medical records on Facebook (CNET)
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- Breaches of Doctor-Patient Confidentiality (FindLaw)
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