I saw my pain specialist for several years for treatment of a herniated disc and degenerative disc disease and neuropathy. I went to see the physician and I was given a letter indicating they had sent my medical records to a different pain specialist and that I was to call the new doctor for further treatment. I never gave consent to have my records sent to the new doctor nor did I have a choice in who would be my new doctor. I have been to 2 doctors now who want to perform invasive procedures which I strongly protested against and they refuse to provide me with a continuum of care that my initial doctor provided me for years. Does this constitute a breach of HIPAA Privacy Rule, and patient abandonment? The PA who treated me for years said it is abandonment.
I am not licensed in your state and can offer you only general advice. Abandonment would mean that the doctor has refused to treat you. If you did not authorize the forwarding of your records it sounds like there is a technical violtation of HIPAA however, it does not sound like you have suffered damages as a result. Further, I m not aare that the HIPAA law provides any real remedy for a technical violation. It also sounds like your treating providers are giving you similar advice. I would strongly consider the health care advice of a provider that you trust.
In many ways, HIPAA has been a failure. It has generated tons of medical paperwork, and perhaps made some practitioners a little more careful. But there are no meaningful sanctions for HIPAA violations. That said, your physician's conduct sound like a HIPAA violation. As far as the patient abandonment issue, I think it's a non-starter. He provided you with referrals and there are other treaters available. Reading between the lines, it sounds as though you would prefer to receive pain medications in the manner that you were used to with your former physician. It appears that the new physicians are willing to treat you, but not to provide those medications. I can't help but wonder if your former physician was also uncomfortable with your regimen. Suing to get medication is going to be portrayed as drug-seeking behavior on your part and is unlikely to be well-received by a jury. Perhaps it is time to reconsider your pain treatment regimen.
It is not patient abandonment if your physician provides a reasonable change in care with another similarly situated practitioner in the community. It sounds as if your physician provided your medical records in an attempt for you to receive continuity of care because your physician either disagreed with your continued course of treatment or for personal reasons such as retirement. Your physician is not obligated to engage in indefinite servitude as long as you have other reasonable choices.
The only way for the physician to attempt to get you further treatment was to transfer certain medical records. Physician to physician medical record transfers are not considered HIPAA violations and HIPAA does not allow for a private cause of action.
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