NeuwirthLaw Uncategorized

HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, is the basis for the forms you sign when you go to your doctor’s office. Your signature indicates that you agree that it is okay for your doctor to share your health information with insurers, who pay for your care, hospitals, other doctors, etc.  People periodically are incensed and call me complaining that their health information was improperly shared and they are looking to sue the provider that did the perceived improper sharing. So, what does this look like as a case? Well, for example, perhaps you go to your primary care doctor during divorce proceedings with your spouse and reveal that you have a minor drug addiction and also test positive for a sexually transmitted disease. Your doctor is supposed to only communicate that to your insurer or other doctors. However, by happenstance, your records are available on an online portal to your spouse, whom you are trying to divorce or to their lawyer, and now your custody rights are affected. Do you have a case? Nope. Why? For unknown reasons, HIPAA does not provide a civil remedy for people harmed like in the above hypothetical. Weird, but true. Your only recourse is to lodge a complaint with the Federal Government through the Department of Health and Human Services and they will, may, or probably will not investigate. So, those are easy calls to field. The only time that you hear about HIPAA violations being successfully pursued is when celebrities’ medical records are viewed and disclosed in large hospital systems, where a nurse or other person is looking at records and revealing them for non-treatment reasons. Say, Brad Pitt or Emily Ratajkowski, who may or may not be dating, are hospitalized following treatment for side effects of botox use or liposuction or whatever makes them look perfectly perfect. Perhaps the stars would not want that information revealed and perhaps a hospital employee sells that information to the Enquirer. Can the stars sue the hospital system? Nope. But, they can file a complaint with DHS! Will they find counsel to claim a defamation and pursue that route? Perhaps, but it won’t be me taking that case.