Monday, June 27, 2011

Jury Indicts Doctor for Disclosing Patient Health Information.

He Could Face 5 Years in Jail if Convicted. Your Thoughts?

A doctor in Suffolk, Virginia could face up to five years in prison if convicted of wrongfully disclosing protected health information (PHI) about a patient. Is it a justified reaction to the patient data privacy breach or does it go too far? Share your thoughts on this situation?

The Indictment
The former medical director of the Sentara Obici Hospital's psychiatric unit was indicted in U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia on June 21. According to the indictment, the doctor treated a patient for two weeks in 2007. His discharge summary indicated that the patient was not considered a danger to others. Then in February 2008, he provided the patients personal health information to an "agent" of the patient's employer's without authorization on three different occasions.
According to the indictment, the doctor disclosed the information under false pretenses, saying she was of "serious and imminent threat to the safety of the public" even though, the indictment claims, the doctor knew the patient was not a threat to the safety of the public.
Previous Board of Medicine Investigation
The Virginia Board of Medicine had previously investigated the same incident and in May 2010 he was fined $5,000 and put on probation until he completed eight hours of medical education on professional ethics. When he had complied with the order in October 2010 his license was restored.

A call by The Virginian-Pilot newspaper to a phone listed as the doctor's office could only reach a voice mail saying his practice has been closed and he is no longer accepting patients.

An indictment is only an accusation, and defendant are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The doctors attorney said his client will be pleading not guilty to the charges.

(a) Suffolk doctor faces federal privacy law charges - The Virginian-Pilot, June 23, 2011
(b) Doctor indicted for disclosing health information - Fox 43, June 21, 2011

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