As Attorney Strom stated, under HIPAA law, there is no private right of action. Basically, an individual cannot bring a lawsuit against a provider simply because the provider violated its obligations under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. That certainly does not leave you without a recourse against the provider, but a lawsuit will not prevail on these grounds alone.
Depending on other factors, you may have other claims against the provider in which the violation of their HIPAA obligations can be used to demonstrate that the provider had a duty to you as the patient and subsequently breached that duty. To date, this is one of the few ways that the HIPAA obligations have been used successfully in court. To fully develop your potential claims, you should contact an attorney who specialized in personal injury or medical malpractice.
If you simply want to make sure that the behavior is addressed and that the conduct of the provider is investigated, you are welcome to contact your local Office of Civil Rights. California is located in Region IX and the contact information for the office is:
Region IX - San Francisco (American Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada)
Michael Kruley, Regional Manager
Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
90 7th Street, Suite 4-100
San Francisco, CA 94103
Voice Phone (415)437-8310
I hope this helps. You are welcome to call me with any additional questions.
THESE COMMENTS MUST NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. Comments made on websites such as Avvo.com are provided for informational purposes only. The only way to determine whether how the law may apply to your particular situation is to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.
Probably not. The HIPAA statute does not provide an individual cause of action. It really functions as a basis for a government audit and associated fines.
However, a HIPAA violation could be evidence of negligence or malpractice on the part of a health care worker. You should contact an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice to discuss your case.