Monroeville official says UPMC, town broke health privacy law
Jonathan D. Silver reports:
Monroeville’s assistant police chief has filed a complaint alleging that his own municipality, UPMC and the department’s former chief breached a federal privacy law governing release of medical information.[…]
The complaint, filed in August by Assistant Chief Steven Pascarella, claims that information about ambulance dispatches was being sent not only to paramedics but also to his old boss, George Polnar, although he was not an active first responder, and was then forwarded by Mr. Polnar to a third party.
Read more on Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The town’s attorney doesn’t see any problem:
“Who thinks it is a violation? So far the vote is the assistant chief. And he’s practicing law without a license. I don’t see it,” Mr. Dice said. “The only lessons learned out of this mountain out of a molehill is we’re taking names off this list that don’t have any reason to be on there anymore. This isn’t a big deal.”
Actually, I think it is a big deal, although I am not a lawyer, either. Sending information where the patient can be identified to individuals who are no longer covered HIPAA entities and who do not any longer have a need to know strikes me as a very big deal. I would have preferred to see the town acknowledge that privacy was violated by sending information to individuals who should no longer have had access to the information instead of denying any wrongdoing. I will be interested to see the follow-up to this case.
Update 1: “Mike” has posted a link in the Comments section to TV news coverage of this case: http://www.wtae.com/news/local/investigations/Complaint-alleges-police-chief-received-shared-info-from-911-call/-/12023024/16880170/-/ci1kacz/-/index.html