With all of the Medicare and Medicaid fraud prosecutions that have gone on and are going on around the country, have you ever thought about whether your patient records with sensitive information are winding up in the hands of non-medical personnel or how many people might have access to them?
Shannon Haugland reports that the ACLU of Alaska filed suit against the state on behalf of patients whose records got caught up in a fraud prosecution of a health clinic:
The civil suit was filed by former patients of Eileen Small, a nurse practitioner who operated a women’s health clinic in Ketchikan. Small’s license and prescription authority were suspended July 29, 2009, but the state alleges that after that time Small billed the state Medicaid program for services to 37 patients and that seven pharmacies had billed Medicaid for prescriptions she had written.
In January 2010 the state MFCU, assisted by Ketchikan police, seized a total of 398 patient files from Small’s clinic under a search warrant. In March 2010 the records were subpoenaed by the state professional licensing division for its own investigation. The files are still in the state’s possession.
Read more about the case on The Republic.
This is one of those “balancing” tests again. The state does need certain information to investigate and/or prosecute, but how much does it need? The state maintains that it is adequately securing the records, but if your records contained information about pregnancies or terminated pregnancies and other sensitive questions, how would you feel about the state having that information so that they could prosecute for Medicaid fraud? How much info do they actually need?