By Lance O. Leider, J.D., The Health Law Firm
A former Florida Hospital employee, who admitted to stealing confidential patient information, was sentenced to spend one year and one day in federal prison on January 14, 2013. He pleaded guilty in October 2012, to one count of conspiracy and one count of wrongful disclosure of health information, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
You may remember the news story about the privacy breach at Florida Hospital back in October 2011. The breach involved more than 700,000 patient records that were illegally accessed by the ex-employee between 2009 and 2011. We previously wrote about this . Click here to read the prior blog.
Ex-Employee Sold Patient Information to a Co-Conspirator.
Federal investigators said the ex-hospital worker looked specifically for information on car accident victims. He would allegedly sell that information, which included patients’ phone numbers and details about their treatment, to a co-conspirator.
The co-conspirator was allegedly associated with an injury hotline. He apparently used the information to solicit customers for lawyers and chiropractors, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The co-conspirator will be sentenced on March 25, 2013.
Click here to read the Orlando Sentinel article.
HIPAA Privacy Complaints Do Result in Action.
The act of accessing patient records is a direct violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Many individuals whose privacy is breached fail to realize how effective a HIPAA Privacy Complaint can be. These complaints, which can be filed online to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR), a federal agency, are fully investigated. Stiff civil fines and even criminal prosecutions may result. In serious cases, the FBI investigates them.
Since the time period is short for filing these (180 days), the first step you should take, if your medical privacy is breached, file a HIPAA Privacy Complaint with the OCR. Also file a complaint with the hospital or health care provider and with the state agency that licenses the health care provider.
Contact Health Attorneys Experienced in the Confidentiality of Medical Records.
Our attorneys provide advice and legal opinions on confidentiality of medical records and medical information, including HIPAA Privacy Regulation, and are available to testify as expert witnesses on these issues.
For a list of applicable Federal and Florida legal authorities on "super-confidential" medical information such as mental health, HIV and drug or alcohol treatment records click here.
To contact The Health Law Firm please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
This has been a big story in the Central Florida area. Have you been following it? Do you think the ex-Florida Hospital employee received a fair sentence? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Pavuk, Amy. “Former Florida Hospital Employee Sentenced in Patient Data Theft.” Orlando Sentinel. (January 14, 2013). From: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-hospital-employee-patient-theft-sentence-20130114,0,4834196.story
Staff Tampa Bay Business Journal. “Former Florida Hospital Employee Sentenced to Prison.” Tampa Bay Business Journal. (January 15, 2013). From: http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/blog/morning-edition/2013/01/former-florida-hospital-employee.html?s
About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Avenue, Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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