I work at a multiple Physician office in the laboratory. I am a phlebotomist. I was injured on the job, a cabinet fell off the wall and I caught it with my elbow. Two people in the lab went in to my medical chart when it happened. There are a number of things in my chart that I do not want people to know. This is a direct violation of my HIPPA rights. What can I do?
General Practice Lawyer
You can complain to your employer that your co-workers invaded your privacy. If you can prove that you suffered damages, such as emotional distress, from you privacy being invaded, you can sue your co-workers.
HIPPA does not provide for private lawsuits against the facility on the basis of privacy violations. That does not mean that you cannot initiate legal action on these facts, it only means that your legal action will be based on other legal rights such as right to privacy. It rarely makes sense to sue the offending co-employees, as they very likely lack the financial assets to ensure payment of any judgment that you might obtain through legal action. But the facility may be liable for the acts of its employees if they have failed to adopt sufficient confidentiality measures, or if they fail to redress violations of patient privacy with adequate and well-tailored consequences. On these facts, a consultation with a civil litigation attorney to determine your best course would be a worthwhile effort.
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There is no private right of action for HIPAA violations. You would need to complain to the Department of Health and Human Services. While Virginia does have a statute that protects medical records, your situation may be different, because co-workers looked at your information in your place of employment. Your first step is to complain to your employer.
Mr. Goldstein is a Virginia-licensed attorney only. The information is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. Answering this question does not in any way constitute legal representation. Contacting Mitchell Goldstein or the Goldstein Law Group does not constitute legal representation, nor is any information you provide protected by attorney-client privilege until otherwise advised.