When Complaining About Your Job Becomes a Privacy Violation

A woman in Pennsylvania likely thought she was just complaining about her job in the way that millions of people do every day. But Stephanie Sicilia, who works for an OB/GYN, has placed herself and her employer in jeopardy of hefty fines and even imprisonment after she allegedly complained about patients on her MySpace page.

The MySpace posts didn’t mention patients by name, but at least one patient said she recognized the identity of a patient who was described in a post as having an abortion. The posts could be considered violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA).

Penalties for violating HIPAA vary, depending on the nature of the violation. A common penalty is a fine of up to $50,000 and/or a year in prison.

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