I shared an office with another physician for nearly 1 ½ years. We shared the same EMR system database for storage of our patients’ information. My associate restricted my access to the EMR system, and it was absolutely impossible for me to generate a list of my own patients. I asked my associate on numerous occasions to please provide me with a list of my own patients. I decided to relocate at the end of my contract
term, and I left to start my private practice and moved into my new office on January 1, 2011.
In December of 2010, I mailed a holiday card to patients from the database that I believed to be mine – I had to play the guessing game. The holiday card that was sent out consisted of a holiday greetings card, a postcard announcing my new office and an Open House date in February 2011, and a business card-sized insert with my name, two Open House specials, and a listing of some of the services I provide. All of the foregoing was in a sealed envelope. The envelope only had the patient’s name and mailing address, a stamp, and my name and address as the return-address. A few patients of my former associate were accidently included in the holiday cards that I sent out. This was an honest mistake as I had to guess which patients in the database system were mine. It was completely confusing because there were several cases that my associate and I assisted each other in the operating room. My former associate has now filed a complaint with the medical board claiming that “I illegally obtained patient information and solicited patients of [his] in violation of HIPAA and doctor / patient confidentially”.
It was not until the first week of January 2011 (after my contract term with my associate) that he finally provided me with a paper print-out of my complete patient list, despite my numerous requests during the term of our contract that he provide me with my complete patient list. It was also a week after I moved out until he provided me with my own patients’ records.
Any advice on how I should handle this in responding to the complaint filed with the medical board? Were my actions in violation of HIPAA and doctor / patient confidentially? Thank you for your time.