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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 35309
Experience:  I am a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience in the legal field.
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I was at my therapy office yesterday much needed therapy

Customer Question

I was at my therapy office yesterday for a much needed therapy appointment, I'm in crisis now. I'm in the waiting room as normally, I'm wearing sunglasses to try to hide the tears I'm about to start shedding and my anxiety is at 100%. Then this woman walks in and says have you seen a phone? I say no. She went in back with a therapist. I went to use the restroom because I'm trying to control my anxiety but never found it. I come back in the waiting room and there are 2 other people in the chairs and that previous woman with her children and a therapist. The woman is making comments about the police coming in and questioning everyone, and the people in the rooms. The therapist said that would be a confidentiality issue, the only smart thing she did. This woman starts asking us in the waiting room to empty out our pockets and show her ID, and a therapist stood there. So at this point my anxiety is through the roof! So I leave to use the rest room but really to get air and out of that space, but that woman followed me. I come back in and sit down and wait for a bit but can have no more.
I talk to that therapist and told her I had to leave, left my name and number for my therapist to call me.
I walk out the door and am followed by that woman in the waiting room. At this point I'm actually fearing that she's going to attack me, I do martial arts and I'm thinking what will be the best way to put her down without hurting her. This woman is berating me and I'm fearful, As she's looking in my car windows, tugging at the door handles going through items in my car. I get in my car and she stands behind it, not letting me leave. I started to back up. She move a bit then stop, and I'd stop, and we do it again, repeat.
It never should have gotten that far!
So that woman called the police because she lost her phone. Now at this point I left the office. I get a phone call today while I'm in a crisis appointment with my psychiatrist, she feels that incident brought up my PTSD.
That call was from the police department about the woman's phone. The only way they could of gotten my name and number, because my therapist does not keep any of my records at that office is that the therapist I gave my name and number to, gave my information to the police.
I'm angry that they did not provide a safe place where I could wait in peace.
I'm angry that I feel all the PTSD feelings again
I'm angry that a therapist stood and watched the woman follow my into the bathroom and out to my car with out intervening.
I'm angry they gave out my information with out my consent.
I already had to have 2 emergency therapy sessions today.
Is there any recourse that I can take?
Thank you
R. Gibbons
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon,
I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.
It appears that the therapist may have violated HIPAA regulations by providing a third party with information about you which should have not have been provided.
A HIPAA violation does not give rise to a private cause of action because the federal government, through the US Department of Health and Human Services, enforces HIPAA violations. However, the same facts which constitute a HIPAA violation can give rise to a meritorious Negligence action and/or Invasion of Privacy action. You can sue for Negligence/Invasion of Privacy based on the dissemination of your private medical information.
You might also file a formal complaint with The Joint Commission, which is responsible for certifying health care facilities for eligibility to receive federal payments of health services. If a hospital or large clinic loses certification, they also lose the ability to be paid for MediCare, MediCaid patient treatment---which can force a facility to have to close down. Here is a link to the Joint Commission’s complaint web page: http://www.jointcommission.org/report_a_complaint.aspx
Also, you may also report the violation to the US Department of Health and Human Services Here is a link to a website that will assist you in filing a complaint with regard to the unauthorized dissemination of your medical records: http://www.dhhs.gov/ocr/privacy/hipaa/complaints/index.html
You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.
Kindly, remember to rate my service to you. That is how I am credited for assisting you.
I wish you and yours the best in 2015,
Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, so I can report the therapist and office to 3 agencies which will give them fines. I don't want anyone to have their lively hood ruined, what if I had a lawyer write up a letter of intent to sue for x amount. But we are willing to settle for x amount and we will not report this infraction to the agencies. I'm not sure what that's called. Would I be suing the therapist I gave my name & number to, as well as the office? Are you interested in the case?
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon,
You certainly could have a local attorney represent you and draft a demand letter seeking monetary damages from the therapist/office for Invasion of Privacy. However, you may not offer to "not report" the violation in exchange for their agreement to pay you. That would constitute extortion under the law.
You may absolutely though seek damages for the violation of your civil right of privacy.
I am sorry, but I cannot represent you as JustAnswer prohibits us from providing legal services to its customers. You really want a local attorney who has the ability to file suit for you if the negotiations fail.
Alternatively, you can make the demand on your own and then follow up in small claims court on your own and with no legal fees to worry about either.
As for who you would sue, the office, if it is a corporation, LLC or partnership could be named and the employee who actually provided the information could be named as well in an Invasion of Privacy suit.
I wish you success.
Please keep in mind that, even though you have already paid your deposit money over to JustAnswer, until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be paid for having assisted you with your questions.
If you have additional questions, you may of course reply back to me and I will be happy to continue to assist you further until your questions have been answered to your satisfaction.
I wish you well,
Doug

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