HIV patients sue MGH

Ethan Jacobs of Bay Windows reports:

Two HIV-positive patients filed suit against Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) May 12 alleging a violation of their right to privacy after an MGH billing manager lost a bundle of documents on the MBTA Red Line train in March containing the patients’ names and HIV statuses.


The suit stems from an incident March 9 in which an MGH billing manager left a bundle of billing records on the T on her morning commute to the hospital. According to a letter MGH sent to the patients, the records contained the patients’ names, diagnoses, birthdates, medical record numbers, and health insurance information. The affected parties were patients of MGH’s Infectious Disease Associates clinic, which treats patients living with HIV. An MGH spokesperson told Bay Windows last week the billing manager violated hospital policy by removing the records from the premises, but the hospital has declined to say publicly whether the employee was fired or otherwise disciplined for the offense.

While the attorneys’ confidence is inspiring, I’d be surprised if they could prevail in a lawsuit if the “only” consequence to their clients is emotional distress and time spent dealing with the breach. And I’d love to see the court papers to find out what “right to privacy” they are alleging MGH violated.

But, of course, I am not a lawyer.

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