How To Sue When Your HIPAA Rights Have Been Violated

Most people are familiar with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act -- also known as HIPAA -- in one way or another. It was designed to protect the rights of patients everywhere to privacy regarding their medical records -- including what conditions they have and treatments or medications they take.

What most people don't know is that HIPAA doesn't give them a direct right to sue if the rules get broken and their personal information gets spread around. However, it is still possible to recover monetary damages against someone for HIPAA violations through a civil lawsuit instead. This is what you should know.

How Can HIPAA Violations Equal A Charge Of Negligence?

Negligence is a fairly broad legal concept that allows for a wide variety of actions to fall underneath its label -- and it may be your first recourse to hold someone financially responsible for their actions if your HIPAA rights are violated.

Essentially, the law recognizes that medical providers and their employees (such as technicians, secretaries, and pharmacy aides) are expected to adhere to a certain standard of behavior when dealing with the private, sensitive medical information of patients. This is called their "duty of care."

When someone at your doctor's office, hospital, or pharmacy violates his or her responsibility to behave according to this duty of care and you suffer some sort of physical, financial, or emotional damage as a result, that's considered negligence.

Invasion Of Privacy And Emotional Distress Are Forms Of Negligence.

Several lawsuits involving HIPAA violations have been successful against doctors and pharmacists who have either improperly divulged a patient's information or allowed someone else access to the information.

For example, one woman successfully sued a major pharmacy chain because one of its pharmacy aides accessed her pharmacy records in an attempt to dig up information that could be used against her in a child support case.

Another woman successfully sued her psychiatrist for allowing a staff member who had a personal dislike for her access her mental health records, making her a subject of gossip.

HIPAA Violations May Also Qualify As Medical Malpractice.

Depending upon your circumstances, and the laws of your state, HIPAA violations may also qualify for a medical malpractice case.

While most people think of medical malpractice in terms of some sort of physical harm caused to the patient, the psychological harm caused by having your privacy violated can also be considered malpractice. At least one Indiana case has been successful using this approach.

An ordinary HIPAA violation can be reported to the Office for Civil Rights. However, if a severe HIPAA violation has impacted you physically, emotionally, or financially, contact an attorney to discuss your options. For more information on this and other personal injury cases, contact a professional like Stapleton Law Offices.