VA: Suffolk doctor faces federal privacy law charges

Elizabeth Simpson reports:

In a rare prosecution of a possible health privacy violation, a federal grand jury has indicted a Suffolk psychiatrist on charges he disclosed personal medical information.

Dr. Richard Kaye, 62, a former medical director of the psychiatric unit at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk, was indicted in U.S. District Court in Norfolk on Tuesday and is scheduled to be arraigned July 13.

According to the indictment, he treated a patient with a mental health problem at Obici for two weeks in 2007. In February 2008, the indictment said, he released personal health information about her on three different occasions to an “agent” of the patient’s employer without authorization.

The indictment from the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia said Kaye disclosed the information under false pretenses, saying she was of “serious and imminent threat to the safety of the public.” The indictment said the doctor knew the patient was not a threat to the safety of the public.

Read more on PilotOnline.com.

To see a prosecution like this really is unusual. The news story indicates that the matter had been investigated and handled by the state professional board, which is how I would have expected it to be handled. I wonder what convinced federal prosecutors that this is a case that required a federal prosecution.

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