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Patrick, Esq.
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Employee is fired and a friend of her that used to work in

Customer Question

employee is fired and a friend of her that used to work in the practice, writes a letter of support for her case to unemployment board relating the physician has sleep apnea and his demeanor was sometimes "unpredictable"
Is this a hippa violation?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

It is not a HIPAA violation if the employee consented to the release of this information, which she most likely did because the information increases the likelihood of her UI claim getting approved. You could report the violation to the Department of Health & Human Services (the entity responsible for enforcing HIPAA) and have them investigate. If they find there was no consent (highly doubtful given that the coworker probably would not have even known about the UI claim unless the employee told her about it and asked for the letter of support) they may issue a penalty.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

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Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Are you still with me?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I am sorry but there seems to be a discrepancy. the unauthorized disclosure was about the physician condition not the employee' and the MD did not authorize the disclosure. this employee used this information to support the application of her friend and likely is disclosing it to other which is irrelevant because she already made a public written disclosure.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for your reply. I am confused by what you mean when you say "the unauthorized disclosure was about the physician condition not the employee' and the MD did not authorize the disclosure." Perhaps there is a typo there? Can you rephrase the situation?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
both employees were hired by myself. I have sleep apnea. I am a physician. I fired my ultrasound tech. the other one left before voluntarily, she was having an affair with a rep. and her situation was not good but I did not fired her . the us tech filed for unemployed benefits that were denied. in the process her friend that left voluntarily send a letter saying I had sleep apnea and my demeanor was "unpredictable". this diagnosis was part of my medical record that she had access to. I did not authorize her or consent for the disclosure of my medical information.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Thank you for explaining, I understand much better now.

First, regardless of whether there was a HIPAA violation, the unemployment office can still consider the information presented to it in violation of HIPAA. The HIPAA violation would mean that the employee who committed the violation may be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution. If they are licensed by a state licensing agency, their licenses may be suspended or revoked. There is no private cause of action for violation of one's HIPAA rights, so you cannot sue for personal damages stemming from the violation. You can, however, report the matter to the DHH and have them investigate. That would be your recourse under the circumstances.

I hope this clarifies. If I can be of any further assistance just let me know.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 months ago.

Was there anything else I can do?

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