A Connecticut physician group recently agreed to pay $125,000 to settle a claim of “reckless disregard” for a patient’s privacy rights. The group contacted the local television station to give a statement about a dispute between its patient and one of its doctors. A reporter contacted the doctor, who “impermissibly disclosed the patient’s protected health information.” The Office of Civil Rights investigated and concluded that the doctor had shown “reckless disregard” after the doctor was instructed by the group’s privacy officer to respond with “no comment.” The group failed to discipline the doctor or take corrective action.
Take-home: while a patient has an unfettered right to disclose their private health information in public and to the media, a covered entity does not. There is no “media exception” to the Privacy Rule.
To read the report and corrective action plan, please click here.