Minnesota Court of Appeals Dismisses Patient’s HIPAA Complaint Against Hospital
Monday, June 4, 2018
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
On May 14, 2018, a Minnesota appeals court affirmed the dismissal of a complaint filed by a woman who says a hospital violated her privacy. The woman claimed a nurse at Allina Health Systems hospital revealed in front of her father and uncle that she just had a hysterectomy, which she didn’t want them to know about.
Patient Information. State law does prohibit the unauthorized release of a person’s medical information, however, the court stated that this situation was different. In this case, the woman specifically asked a nurse at Allina why she was in so much pain after a relatively routine procedure. The nurse replied in front of her family members and revealed the hysterectomy procedure. Therefore, Allina was specifically authorized under [state law] to provide Porter with her health information when she requested it, the panel held.Was the Minnesota Health Records Act Violated?The woman filed a complaint with the district court, alleging that Allina violated the Minnesota Health Records Act by sharing her health information. Therefore, she claimed Allina was vicariously liable for the nurse who shared that medical information, which violated her privacy. In response, Allina moved to dismiss her claim, arguing to the district court that her complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The district court granted Allina’s motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim. It stated that the hospital did not violate its statutory duty of releasing her records without authorization. The court found that even though Allina had released her medical information to another person, she could not recover damages because she waived her statutory right by asking the nurse a medical question in the presence of her father and uncle.To read about a similar case involving a doctor facing HIPAA violations for sharing patient information, click here.
Contact a Health Law Attorney Experienced in Defending HIPAA Complaints and Violations.The attorneys of The Health Law Firm represent physicians, medical groups, nursing homes, home health agencies, pharmacies, hospitals and other health care providers and institutions in investigating and defending alleged HIPAA complaints and violations and in preparing Corrective Action Plans (CAPs).For more information about HIPAA violations, electronic health records or corrective action plans (CAPs) please visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com or call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001.Sources:Petrick, John. “Minn. Hospital Beats Patient’s Suit Over Privacy Violations.” Law360. (May 14, 2018). Web. Knoedler, Teresa. “The Minnesota Health Records Act and HIPAA.” Minnesota Medicine. (May 14, 2018). Web.
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of 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 Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
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