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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  I am a practicing attorney with more than 30 years of experience in the legal field.
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I am a 50y/o female who had contracted Syphillis when I was

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Hello, I am a 50y/o female who had contracted Syphillis when I was about 24 y/o. Everytime I take an RPR it will always come back positive. I recently was sent by my eye doctors for an RPR and like always it was detected. I do understand the concerns from the medical profession, but I too have a medical profession background. I was going to check my mailbox one day and I used my front doorway (which I rarely use because of the way my house is set up) and on my doorstep wet from being on my front doorstep I noticed a letter with my name on it marked confidential. When I opened it it was from the Department of Health asking me to contact a Mr. Michael McDonald, in which I did. He was alerting me about the positive RPR . I then told him that I was aware of the positive result and had been treated several times because of it. I realize that because he said my titer changed it appears that I have been reinfected. I explained to him that I was very secure that neither me nor my husband have had an extramarital affair and that the results was an error. He sarcastically started saying things like I do not know where you have been, and I did not make these numbers up. I am once again aware that EVERYTIME I take an RPR it will come back positive. So as not to be ignorant I went to the Health Department with my husband, who by the way has never been positive and allow them to retest me and treat me. My husband on the other hand refused to take any treatment until he has had a blood test confirming that he was positive. He took the blood test and it came back negative as we both knew it would. It seems to us that Mr. McDonald is on a kind of witch hunt not only to intimidate and annoy us about my husband receiving treatment for something he does not have. I came home again today with a letter stuck in my back door in the same type envelope as I found once before with my husband name on it marked "confidential". I feel that first of all these types of letters should not be left in the manner that they were for privacy reasons. It could have easily blown away and gotten in the wrong hands and feel very humiliated by Mr. McDonald ways of approaching this very sensitive matter. Yhere is more, but I would like to know is this a acceptable practice.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawTalk replied 11 months ago.

Good afternoon Cynthia,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I wanted to let you know that I am working on an answer for you right now. Please give me a few minutes to complete my answer and get it posted to you. Thanks in advance,

Doug

Expert:  LawTalk replied 11 months ago.

Good afternoon Cynthia,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

No, notifications of infectious diseases should not be left on the doorstep or tacked to the door or any other similar delivery system if the information contained in the envelope contains privileged medical information. The failure to secure such information is technically a violation of federal HIPAA laws.

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 regulations and deals with violations. However, the same facts which constitute a HIPAA violation can give rise to a meritorious Negligence action and/or Invasion of Privacy action if you can show that the information fell into the hands of someone other than you, and you alone. 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.

I hope that I have been able to fully answer your question. Please be as kind as to rate my service to you. That is the only way I am credited for assisting you.

I wish you and yours the best in 2016,

Doug

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