A mailing error with troubling potential

We have all read about mailing errors by now. In fact, such errors are one of the biggest types of HIPAA breaches — providing one patient’s information to another, or a mail merge error, or something similar.

But here’s a case in the U.K. that serves as a painful reminder that such breaches can have significant emotional impact. Cyril Dixon reports:

A mother who tried to keep her terminal cancer diagnosis from her 12-year-old daughter is suing the family doctor who accidentally leaked her medical records.

The woman has demanded £20,000 damages from GP Carl Deaney for the breach of privacy after her file was emailed to a stranger. Her lawyers allege in a High Court claim form that she wanted to spare her child the trauma of knowing she had a rare form of the disease – and was on the end of life register.

Read more on Express.

There is no evidence in the story as to whether the person who received the file ever shared the info with anyone. But the medical practice is objecting to the lawsuit asking for so much money. claiming it’s a small thing and shouldn’t be more than £1,000.  So… you don’t want your child to know that you are dying and you find out that someone was given that information — and you don’t know if it will ever get back to your child.  What do you do? And how much should this breach be worth?  If the child does find out from the stranger, is it worth more than if her mother tells her herself for fear that a stranger will tell her? How do you evaluate this breach?

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