Five Former Methodist Hospital Employees Charged with HIPAA Violations
Criminal prosecutions under HIPAA are still relatively rare. Here’s one reported by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of Tennessee on November 10:
Memphis, TN – A federal grand jury has indicted five former Methodist Hospital employees for conspiring with Roderick Harvey, 40, to unlawfully disclose patient information in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, commonly known as “HIPAA.” United States Attorney Kevin G. Ritz announced the indictment today.
HIPAA was enacted by Congress in 1996 to create national standards to protect sensitive patient information from being disclosed without a patient’s knowledge or consent. HIPAA’s provisions make it a crime to disclose patient information, or to obtain patient information with the intent to sell, transfer or use such information for personal gain.
According to the indictment, between November 2017 and December 2020, Harvey paid Kirby Dandridge, 38, Sylvia Taylor, 43, Kara Thompson, 30, Melanie Russell, 41, and Adrianna Taber, 26, to provide him with names and phone numbers of Methodist patients who had been involved in motor vehicle accidents. After obtaining the information, Harvey sold the information to third persons including personal injury attorneys and chiropractors.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three-year period of supervised release.
Harvey was also charged with seven counts of obtaining patient information with the intent to sell it for financial gain on various dates between November 12, 2017, and September 7, 2019. Each of those charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three years’ of supervised release.
Dandridge, Taylor, Thompson, Russell, and Taber were each charged with separate violations of disclosing the information to Harvey in violation of HIPAA. That charge carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment, a $50,000 fine and a one-year period of supervised release.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.
United States Attorney Kevin Ritz thanked Assistant United States Attorney Carroll L. André III, who is prosecuting the case.
The charges and allegations in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.