VT: Doctor pleads guilty to accessing patient records

The Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont announced last week that Joshua Welch, 35, of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, pleaded guilty to the crime of unlawfully obtaining the private medical information of another person. Welch pleaded before United States District Judge William K. Sessions III in Burlington.

According to statements made in court, the crime arose from conduct in 2008, when Welch was a physician with Fletcher Allen Health Care. On account of that position, Welch had access to the electronic medical records of Fletcher Allen patients. At the hearing Welch admitted to obtaining the private medical information of a woman who was not his patient and with whom he was in a sexual relationship. Welch admitted that his purpose in pursuing this information was to ascertain whether the woman carried a sexually transmitted disease. The government also stated that Welch had admitted to accessing the records of other women who were not his patients.

The Court has scheduled sentencing for March 26. Following the plea, the Court released Welch on his own recognizance. Welch faces a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison and a $50,000 fine. He may also be liable for restitution. His actual sentence will be determined by application of the federal sentencing guidelines and other factors after a presentence investigation.

Fletcher Allen Health Care cooperated in the government’s investigation.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Vermont

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