The Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman has sued Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital for negligently faxing over our client’s HIV diagnosis to his office’s fax machine at the Actors Equity Association, despite his previously requesting in writing that the entirety of his medical records be sent to his private post office box or home. The hospital was investigated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and found to have made this same mistake before with a patient’s HIV status; after admitting its responsibility in violating our client’s rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and paying a $387,000 fine, the hospital refuses to even enter settlement negotiations with our client over the damages he suffered due to their negligence. Left with no other recourse, we brought this lawsuit.
The Hospital Completely Abused Its Responsibility to Safeguard Medical Records
Our client, a man in his early 30s, was diagnosed with HIV three years ago and sought treatment at the Spencer Cox Clinic of Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital. Soon thereafter, he requested a copy of his medical file by completing an Authorization for Release of Medical Information which asked for the records be sent to his home address or post office box by regular mail. Three days later, on September 11, 2014, Plaintiff was approached at his desk at his job by the Director of Operations of the Actors Equity Association, and handed a copy of his complete medical records from Spencer Cox. The Director of Operations received the documents from the mail room supervisor, who came into possession of the materials after Spencer Cox sent our client’s confidential protected health information via telefax to the Actors Equity Association fax machine the day before. The documents delivered to our client contained information on his HIV status and care, previous diagnoses for other sexually-transmitted diseases, history of physical abuse, sexual orientation information, mental health history, prescription drug information, and social security number.
The hospital’s HIPAA officer admitted an “egregious” “breach” had occurred – but tried to assuage our client by claiming that he was lucky just a mail room employee had received the fax with his health issues contained therein. Our client then filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the United States Department of Health and Human Services and two weeks later the hospital admitted responsibility for the erroneous disclosure. After a full investigation, St. Luke’s Hospital and the Office of Civil Rights reached an agreement – just a few months ago – in which it was revealed that St. Luke’s had inappropriately revealed protected health information of not just our client but another individual as well. The hospital paid a $387,000 fine to the United States Department of Health and Human Services and agreed to institute a correction action plan with regards to their policies and procedures concerning uses and disclosures of protected health information. Incredibly, they made no attempt to compensate our client in any manner.
Our Client Was Left Devastated by This Transgression
Prior to this unlawful disclosure of his health condition, our client had not yet told the majority of his family and friends about his HIV diagnosis and the stress of knowing that his coworkers could know about his condition overwhelmed him – and he was forced to divulge his condition as he was concerned they would find out due to the actions of the hospital. The stress of believing that his coworkers were aware of his condition forced him to quit his job, and cost him substantial health benefits and insurance. Because of the increased costs associated with his medical insurance at his new job, our client has been forced to discontinue seeing his therapist to help cope with the actions of St. Luke’s Hospital which leaked his condition.
A Lawsuit Has Been Filed and We Look Forward To Learning of All of St. Luke’s Negligence
Nevertheless, despite admitting its wrongdoing and paying a $387,000 fine to the government, Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital has refused to even discuss a financial settlement with our client due to its unlawful actions. For these reasons, we have been forced to initiate this lawsuit, suing the hospital for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
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Contact us today if you have been victimized by your employer, your caregiver or a hospital. Hiring a top New York attorney who has fought and defeated the federal government is a good start. Give us a call at (212) 581-1001 today to discuss your case.
Jeffrey Lichtman has received the highest rating (AV) from the Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directory, is recognized in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers and has also been selected as a New York City Super Lawyer for being a leader in his field of criminal defense. Mr. Lichtman has received a rating of 10.0/10 Superb rating from Avvo Lawyer Directory and was profiled in the New York Daily News, The New York Times as part of the “Public Lives” series and in a two-part series in Super Lawyers magazine. He can be reached at (212) 581-1001.