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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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Deaconess Hospital in Spokane WA.Shared false medical

Customer Question

Deaconess Hospital in Spokane WA.Shared false medical information with my girlfriend, and my niece in the E.R. I had become very confused and basically out of it. My Blood sugars were below 50 and it took the ambulance personnel a long time to get my levels up before they would transport me. While in the E.R. they told my friend and my niece that I was overdosed on Heroin. I'm on pain management and prescribed 7 30mg Oxycodone daily.
They admitted me and took me off my pain meds which also included 25 mcg/hr Fentanyl Patch putting me in full withdrawals. As soon as I could function again, 7 days I demanded to be released. I asked to see my Tox Screen and asked if it tested positive for Heroin. I was told it did not. On my release paperwork it said I had overdosed so now it states on record that I did overdose. I am furious. any suggestions
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.

Yes, I see a couple of legal issues here. Let me explain.

First, it appears that there may be a violation of HIPAA regulations. The hospital was not allowed to share information like that without your permission.

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

Additionally, you were accused of using an illegal narcotic and that would seem to constitute Defamation.

From a legal standpoint, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm.

1. Slander typically involves an oral (spoken) representation.
2. Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as the internet, a magazine or newspaper.

In order to win a defamation case, you must prove the following:

  1. A false statement was made about an individual, generally yourself;
  2. The statement was made to a third party;
  3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern, (for example if you are a famous person) fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher.
  4. Finally, you must show that you have suffered damages.

You appear to potentially have causes of action for both Defamation as well as Invasion of privacy and negligence. You could sue the person who provided the false and unauthorized information to your friend and your niece.

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.

Please remember to rate my service to you so that I can be compensated for helping you. Thank you in advance.

I wish you and yours the best in 2015,

Doug