Employee’s Unauthorized Texting of Confidential Health Information May Impose Employer Liability

Jeffrey M. Schlossberg writes about the Doe v. Guthrie Clinic case and lawsuit discussed previously on this blog.

When does a medical clinic’s employee’s unauthorized texting of patient confidential health information result in liability to the clinic? The answer; it depends.

In Doe v. Guthrie Clinic, Ltd., the Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a patient’s claim against a medical corporation for alleged breach of fiduciary duty based on a non-physician employee’s unauthorized disclosure of confidential medical information. It did so because the New York State Court of Appeals answered the following certified question in the negative: “Whether, under New York law, the common law right of action for breach of the fiduciary duty of confidentiality for the unauthorized disclosure of medical information may run directly against medical corporations, even when the employee responsible for the breach is not a physician and acts outside the scope of her employment.”


Despite the ruling in the case, the court did state that a medical corporation “may also be liable in tort for failing to establish adequate policies and procedures to safeguard the confidentiality of patient information or to train their employees to properly discharge their duties under those policies and procedures.”

Read more on Workplace Privacy Data Management & Security Report.

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