NC: OCR clears hospital of charges in HIPAA complaint, patient sues

Emily Ford reports that although OCR found no violation of HIPAA’s Privacy Rule, a patient at the Rowan Regional Medical Center has filed a lawsuit against the center, alleging privacy violations.

Rowan Regional Medical Center will undergo voluntary corrective action next month after a former patient filed a privacy complaint against the hospital.

Federal investigators found no violation of patient privacy rights. But employees in the Rowan Regional departments implicated in the complaint will undergo training on safeguarding medical records, confidentiality and more, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

The hospital departments named in the complaint were not disclosed by the Office for Civil Rights, which investigated the HIPAA Privacy Rule complaint filed Aug. 26 by former patient Jennifer Alexander.

HIPAA is the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Alexander alleged that Rowan Regional inappropriately used and disclosed her protected health information and a hospital employee harassed her and her family.

Separate from the complaint, Alexander also has filed a civil lawsuit against the hospital, Novant Health and two hospital employees for negligence, defamation, slander and invasion of privacy. Novant owns Rowan Regional. The two employees are not being named because they have not yet been served with the lawsuit.


Alexander filed her lawsuit against the hospital Dec. 30 in Forsyth County Superior Court. Novant Health is based in Winston-Salem.

The six causes of action in the suit include negligence, negligent retention and supervision of employee, negligent or reckless infliction of severe emotional distress, intentional invasion of privacy, defamation-slander and breach of parents’ duty to supervise minor children.

Read the full story in the Salisbury Post.  The attorney for the patient raises a number of questions  including whether the center itself has adequate audit methods in place to detect inappropriate access to a patient’s records.  This will be an interesting case to follow.

H/T, HealthLeaders Media

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Has one comment to “NC: OCR clears hospital of charges in HIPAA complaint, patient sues”

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  1. Anonymous - January 10, 2011

    So the hospital making corrective actions and employee’s that are implicated have to be trained? It sounds to me that the hospital in NC accepted a deal so to speak. If a violation didn’t occur why agree to make corrective actions and retrain employee’s? I wish the OCR would get tougher on the complaints and not let hospitals walk away with a slap on the wrist.

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