NY: Claim That Sheriff’s Agency Accessed Confidential Samaritan Hospital Records Proceeds

There’s an update in litigation that stemmed from a medical privacy breach involving the Rensselaer County Jail and Samaritan Hospital in Troy, New York. It’s a case that I’ve blogged about a number of times since early 2013, when we first learned that employees of the jail had their medical records improperly accessed because a nurse at the jail allegedly enabled them to by leaving her password conveniently available or by running searches at their request. The nurse would later claim that she did not know the searches were improper.

The breaches began in 2008, were discovered in 2011 by Samaritan Hospital, but were not disclosed to those affected until 2013 – allegedly because the Sheriff, who’s actually a defendant in the matter, asked the hospital to delay notification.

TL;DR version: this case has been a mess since Day 1.

Today, New York Law Journal reports that a lawsuit by former employee Charles Momrow, filed in April, 2015, has survived a motion to dismiss.

And if you’re wondering what HHS/OCR did, if anything, well, a search of HIPAA Helper reveals two entries for Samaritan Hospital in July, 2014. One was resolved by technical assistance, the other had no outcome indicated.

According to media reports, the nurse at the jail, Elaine Young, resigned her position in 2013. A search of disciplinary actions in NYS, where Young was licensed as a registered nurse, shows that the state took disciplinary action against her in September, 2014:

Elaine Patricia Young; Castleton-on-Hudson, NY
Profession: Registered Professional Nurse; Lic. No. 473201; Cal. No. 27503
Regents Action Date: September 16, 2014
Action: Application for consent order granted; Penalty agreed upon: 1 year stayed suspension, 1 year probation to commence upon return to practice, $500 fine.
Summary: Licensee does not contest the charge of unauthorized access of medical records.

So she didn’t lose her license over this, it seems, which based on media accounts of her role, seems appropriate, but she still faces civil litigation.

The Momrow lawsuit is only one of a number of lawsuits that were filed in the wake of this incident. I’m not sure whether Samaritan Hospital was sued over the breach at all.


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