Medical privacy law fails to stop snooping

When Jill went to her doctor two years ago for an operation on her uterus, she didn’t expect that details of her problem would later appear in the hometown newspaper.

The article included her full name and occupation. There were details of what was called her “embarrassing” and “odd” medical problem of heavy menstrual flow. The article described her physician’s treatment and said, “Now Jill no longer experiences heavy and irregular periods.”

Jill says she was subjected to public ridicule, humiliation and depression. She is now suing a medical-services company and its public relations firm for the alleged unauthorized use of her name and medical condition in a promotional piece that masqueraded as a news article…

Peel, who heads the Patient Privacy Rights advocacy group, said individual caregivers who violate the privacy of friends, neighbors and co-workers are not likely to ever be prosecuted under the current HIPAA law.

“I don’t think that’s prosecutable because of the way HIPAA was gutted after it was approved,” she said…

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