How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Zachary Your Own Question

Zachary
Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3930
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
17219180
Type Your Legal Question Here...
Zachary is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

What should I do I found a plastic surgeons server and back

Resolved Question:

What should I do? I found a plastic surgeon's server and back up server(I assume he got new equipment) in a dumpster. I am a former patient of his. Do I have any right to sue for him violating my privacy as well as everyone else's? I found this tonight... should I contact media? police? I talked to cleaning company to see when it was dumped so I could determine which day they were trashed.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
Hi,

Thank you for your question. A medical professional is bound to keep your medical information private under state laws and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). This includes making sure that your information stays private in documents and electronic information which is disposed of, such as the server you found.

The HIPAA Privacy Rule requires that covered entities apply appropriate administrative, technical, and physical safeguards to protect the privacy of protected health information (PHI), in any form. See 45 CFR 164.530(c). This means that covered entities must implement reasonable safeguards to limit incidental, and avoid prohibited, uses and disclosures of PHI, including in connection with the disposal of such information. In addition, the HIPAA Security Rule requires that covered entities implement policies and procedures to address the final disposition of electronic PHI and/or the hardware or electronic media on which it is stored, as well as to implement procedures for removal of electronic PHI from electronic media before the media are made available for re-use.

In your case, under the facts you have provided, there is no indication that the server that you found actually has any PHI on it. Your assumption is that it does and we can work under that assumption. A doctor can't simply throw medical records (or servers containing medical records) into a trash can which is accessible to the public. This would be in itself a violation of HIPPA.

In regard to what you should do, at this point you do not have a private action that you could enforce for money damages. First of all, since you discovered the information in the dumpster, there has not been a disclosure to any third party of your information. If you look at the information and find medical records of other people, then there might be disclosure of their medical records and they might have a claim. However, they could also potentially file a claim against you for intentionally invasion of privacy.

What you should do in this situation is contact U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and file a HIPPA violation complaint. USHHS is the federal department tasked with enforcing HIPPA. If USHHS finds a violation, it may fine your doctor for the negligent failure to protect the privacy of your health records.

Please let me know if you have any further questions regarding this subject or need any clarification.

Best Regards,
Zachary D. Norris
Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3930
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
Zachary and 15 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I assume he's possibly going out of business or at least downsizing. I make this assumption based on the sheer amount in dumpster. He had other PHI including patient paperwork in dumpster. There were tons of other things too, like boxes and boxes of patient brochures and even office supplies like hole punches, staplers, etc

You think the best route is to contact US HHS first? Or should I alert police that I found it? Somehow in my mind the media sounds like a good idea, because it's a great story! I did talk to the cleaning company and video-tape it on my phone so there would be a record of my findings. This doc has been in practice over 30 years. IF and I agree that it's a big IF(But if he was careless enough to throw paper copies of PHI in dumpster it's likely that he may dispose of electronic PHI in the same manner) .... IF his entire database is on these servers then there's potentially a lot of people who's information is at risk. And yes, I agree. I do not plan to try to see what's on servers personally. First of all because I'm not computer savvy enough if I wanted to but also because I don't want to get myself in trouble.
Expert:  Zachary replied 2 years ago.
The local police force does not have jurisdiction to enforce medical privacy laws. So I don't think that will be any help. I would definitely contact HHS and file a complaint.

It sounds like this doctor was very negligent if he disposed of the medical records in this fashion. There are all kinds of problems that it presents in addition to the breach of confidentiality...what about the fact that people may need to have other doctors look at their medical records????!

So, looking at it from a newsworthiness view...I would think it is newsworthy and that this may very well interest the local press. However, I would be extremely careful in making any statements to the press. You want to avoid any potential liability for defamation. If it turns out that the doctor did not disclose any protected information, then he could turn around and sue you if you went on record through the press to accuse him of wrongdoing. So, it might be better to simply tip the press to what is going on...even anonymously.
Zachary, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3930
Experience: Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
Zachary and 15 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Gotcha! Thanks so much!

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Not only did he answer my Michigan divorce question but was also able to help me out with it, too. I have since won my legal case on this matter and thank you so much for it. Lee Michigan
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    8436
    JD, BBA Over 25 years legal and business experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RA/ratioscripta/2012-6-13_2955_foto3.64x64.jpg Ely's Avatar

    Ely

    Counselor at Law

    Satisfied Customers:

    19941
    Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/FL/FLAandNYLawyer/2012-1-27_14349_3Fotolia25855429M.64x64.jpg FiveStarLaw's Avatar

    FiveStarLaw

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    8189
    25 years of experience helping people like you.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/jespoag/2008-12-17_222355_jessepic.jpg JPEsq's Avatar

    JPEsq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    2132
    Experience as general attorney, in house counsel, SSDI, Family Law attorney, and law professor
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/gsenmartin/2008-04-22_214950_me1.jpg Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.'s Avatar

    Guillermo J. Senmartin, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    110
    7+ years of experience handling various legal matters.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PA/PaulmoJD/2013-10-10_195858_JAImage.64x64.jpg Law Educator, Esq.'s Avatar

    Law Educator, Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    31621
    JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/dkaplun/2009-05-17_173121_headshot_1_2.jpg Dimitry K., Esq.'s Avatar

    Dimitry K., Esq.

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    15975
    Multiple jurisdictions, specialize in business/contract disputes, estate creation and administration.