True Stories

Here are a few highlights of stories about medical privacy violations.

Who Said I Take Prozac?

In Florida, Walgreens Co. mailed free samples of Prozac Weekly to patients who were taking Prozac Daily. Imagine the patients’ shock when they realized that strangers were seeing and using their prescriptions records without their knowledge or consent. Under the new HIPAA regulations, this marketing is now called “patient education”.

Oh, My Doctor Gave It Up

A Fort Lauderdale physician gave his fishing buddy, a drug company representative, a list of patients suffering from depression and the salesman arranged to send trial packages of Prozac Weekly to their homes without the patients’ knowledge or permission.

My Medical Files Are Posted On The Internet?

A Pakistani woman threatened to post the entire medical files of over 300,000 patients of UC Medical Center (San Francisco) if she wasn’t paid for her medical transcribing services.

My Medical Files Are Offshore?

A hospital was surprised to learn that the company awarded the job of transcribing the medical records had sub-contracted all those records to a company outside of the United States.

Stand By Your Data

A hospital employee easily viewed and had stolen Tammy Wynette’s medical records from the hospital’s databases and sold the information to the National Enquirer and Star.

For Sale: The Boss’ Birth Records

An auction house put up for sale Bruce Springsteen’s birth records obtained from a private citizen. The records contained information about height, weight, the color of his first bowel movements and the results of a syphilis test.

What Do Your Credit Rating and Your Cholesterol Score Have In Common?

They sit in the same file your credit report. The New York Times reported: “New federal rules being proposed this week would expand the individual right to medical privacy by stipulating that banks cannot consider information about a person’s medical condition when deciding whether to lend money.” But, the real questions is: why is medical information in your credit report in the first place?

Cancer and Creditworthiness

A banker who also served on his county’s health board cross-referenced customer accounts with patient information. He then called due the mortgages of anyone suffering from cancer.

And You Want These Abortion Records Because…?

Former Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Justice Dept. issued subpoenas demanding that at least six hospitals in New York City, Philadelphia, Illinois and elsewhere turn over hundreds of patient records for certain abortions. Ashcroft claimed that no doctor-patient privilege exists under federal law protecting patients from public disclosure of their records.

Read more Medical Privacy True Stories in a PDF file compiled by the Health Privacy Project.

If you think your medical privacy has been violated, please click on Share Your Story and send us your story.