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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12620
Experience:  Attorney experienced in numerous areas of law.
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I work at a family practice medical clinic. I am also a patient

Customer Question

I work at a family practice medical clinic. I am also a patient at this clinic recently it has come to my attention that my personal medical history was shared with administration as well as of our board of directors. A member of our board then shared this information with a member of the community. I serve as the clinic manager and this is a very small rural community in which rumors travel fast. What can or should I do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.

Brandon M. :

Hello there.

Brandon M. :

Thank you for your question. In which state did this occur?

Customer :

california

Brandon M. :

Thank you. Do we know why your medical information was shared?

Customer :

A doctors prescribing was called into question I believe by the dea. Dr. prescribed myself and I guess others prescription weightloss medication that is a controlled substance. Dr. was not charting properly also did not see me at a scheduled office visit rather more of "hallway medicine"

Brandon M. :

That explains why the information may have been shared among the administration and the board of directors. What about the sharing with the member of the community?

Customer :

There was no reason for it. The community member is a known friend of the board member. As I see it, it was more of gossiping. Only came to my attention through one of my employees whom was told by community member about certain things that could or would not be known by anyone but admin or the board. Community member has no professional ties to the clinic is a patient there themselves. things shared were facts that came out during investigation. Does admin or the board have aright to patient names should it not just be a list or number of patients or the record number should names have been shared

Brandon M. :

May I safely assume that the medical history shared was only known through your patient relationship with the medical clinic?

Customer :

yes

Brandon M. :

Well, here's what I can tell you. First, I should be clear that because the nuances of every case are different, this information should not be relied upon as complete or advice without consulting with counsel in person. That said, when discussing medical privacy rights in California, the laws that are usually relevant to consider are HIPAA and California's state equivalent of that law. Both permit the transmission of a patient's medical information by a covered entity for law enforcement purposes, so it is not entirely certain to me that the privacy laws were broken when the information was communicated to your administration and board of directors in the context of a DEA investigation. It's possible that the law was violated, but further investigation would likely be needed. However, "gossip" is not a legitimate foundation for disclosure of protected information. It's a slam-dunk violation, so to speak...

Brandon M. :

How long ago did all of this occur?

Customer :

It came to my attention last Friday that this information was out in the community. The DEA investigation happened about a month ago? Maybe a bit longer/shorter.

Brandon M. :

There are no statute of limitations problems if it was that recent.

Brandon M. :

How to proceed is up to you. If you are inclined to have the matter investigated, you may file a complaint with the state Health and Human Services Agency: http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/laws/priv/Documents/formcomplaint.pdf

Brandon M. :

They will investigate reported violations and take appropiate legal action on the victim's behalf.

Customer :

My major concern is that this is a small community I am a young 31 clinic manager and what is the "gossip" is, is that I am taking drugs I got from "our" pharmacy and that I got in trouble for it. None of it being true other then yes prescription weightloss medication under the supervision of a licenced dr. I have/had hopes of one day becoming CEO here or at least else where and this could be very hard to shake

Customer :

this meaning the "gossip" as well as reporting

Customer :

So the state health and Human services would be the best place for me to go? or at least start? I believe with this may make it very hard for me to advance within my current organization.

Brandon M. :

A reputation as a drug abuser isn't going to help your aspirations. You obviously didn't ask for this situation, but this is the hand that you have been dealt and sometimes in life there are just degrees of losing. The question that you have to ask yourself is what is the best way to clear your name. It might be discussing the matter with the parties involved, it might involve filing a formal complaint with the government, or it might involve a third option. For example, you may want to file a lawsuit for defamation of character. I am in the fortunate position to discuss the legal tools available, but it's ultimately a question of personal judgment that you are in the best position to decide.

Brandon M. :

Filing with HHS is an easy option because the state government does most of the work for you, but whether it will yield the best result for your career is a separate question. It's actually illegal to discriminate against someone for reporting misconduct to the state, but things like that can sour relationships and that isn't good for one's career.

Brandon M. :

Does that make sense?

Customer :

That is about what I thought. This is a very unwanted position but as they say such is life. That is pretty much what my thought was, on the HHS complaint. Other option is to remain quiet and hope/pray all goes away. Not likely, I have already shared this information with my CEO and COO whom I do trust completely, but ulimatly know their loyalty may remain with the company. I want to see how they handle it, but I am thinking they hope it goes away as well,seeing as the information was shared by a member of our board whom is also their boss. If I choose to file a suit for defamation is there a firm in the San Diego area you may recommend?

Brandon M. :

To answer your last question, I'm actually prohibited from referring customers to specific law firms. However, if you contact the county bar association, they can make credible referrals:

Brandon M. :

I do apologize that the website had a technical problem. Please let me know if you have any further questions. Also, please feel free to leave a positive rating once you are finished; it does not cost anything extra to do so and it is the only way I may be compensated for my time. Thanks, and I hope to hear back from you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.


If I choose to file a suit about how long would something like that take to resolve?

Expert:  Brandon M. replied 4 years ago.
Well, it can vary a lot. If it goes all the way to trial, it can easily take over a year, but 95% of the time it will resolve before ever going to trial. I would estimate that most cases of that nature resolve within six months of filing the complaint, but no two cases are alike.