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Patients Cannot File HIPAA Lawsuits

Patients Cannot File HIPAA Lawsuits

A U.S. district court judge in Washington, D.C., on June 15 dismissed a case by a patient who alleged Laboratory Corporation of America, or LabCorp, violated HIPAA, reaffirming the precedent that individual patients cannot file lawsuits for alleged HIPAA violations, according to GovInfoSecurity.

Here are five things to know about the case:

1. The district court’s ruling dismissed a lawsuit filed by a patient of Washington, D.C.-based Providence Hospital. According to the lawsuit, the patient underwent laboratory testing from LabCorp during a June 2017 hospital visit. During the visit, the former patient said she was instructed to submit medical information at a computer intake station that was allegedly within eyesight and earshot of a second patient using a separate intake station.

2. In July 2017, the patient sent a letter to Providence Hospital arguing the incident at the computer intake station constituted a possible HIPAA privacy violation. She proceeded to file a complaint with HHS’ Office for Civil Rights, arguing LabCorp’s alleged failure to make proper “public accommodations” to ensure HIPAA-compliant facilities violated the data privacy and security legislation.

3. HHS notified the patient in November 2017 the office would not pursue her complaint. The June 15 ruling noted, “LabCorp’s alleged HIPAA violation is the only cause of action” included in the case, and that given “the clear consensus among courts that have addressed the question, no private action exists under HIPAA, and accordingly, [the patient] has failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

4. Regulatory and privacy attorneys who spoke with GovInfoSecurity said the ruling reaffirmed the precedent only the OCR and state attorneys general can file lawsuits against healthcare organizations for alleged HIPAA violations, not individual patients…


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