What to do about a hospital’s breach of confidentiality?

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What to do about a hospital’s breach of confidentiality?

I have exclusive physical and legal custody of my 9 year old daughter. My ex was very violent and abusive during our marriage and continued to harass me and break in my house afterward. Due to those facts during the divorce and custody decision the judge ruled the only information he can have about me and my daughter is a telephone number where we can be reached. He does have visitation every other weekend but the judge ordered that we meet in a public place for drop off and pick up. My daughter has issues with her heart that requires a procedure called a cardiac ablation. Since  have to provide him her medical records I told him of her condition and that she needed a procedure. He did not know where she was having the procedure nor what day. He is not mentioned at all on her medical record, and in fact a week before her procedure I even called the doctors office and told them that her biological dad may call and he is not authorized to get any information regarding her because of his violent history. I was assured that he would need to verify my home address and home telephone number in order to be told anything (he only has my cell number). Just to be sure I asked if I should call billing and tell them but was told no, that their verification method is uniform all the way around. I felt very confident that nothing would happen. However the day of my daughters pre-op appointment he was sitting in the waiting room. He had showed up and asked if was he in the right place and they told him yes. He told my daughter that he called every major hospital from where he lives to where he thinks we live (which is a little over 200 mile radius.) It also means that when he called someone gave our information out. Then I asked if they verify my address with him, which then would allow him to know where I lived. They did not know. I told them that by them breaching confidentiality and then not being able to tell me if he has my home address that has jeopardized mine and my children’s safety (I am remarried now with a 2 year old).  My husband works out of town. My ex used to break in my house, my mom’s house, and steal my mail. The worst is he thought that he had killed me the time when I finally left in 2004. So now I have to worry that he will show up at my home because the hospital can’t tell me if they released my address or not. When I showed them the custody papers and how I had sole custody then they told me they faxed them to their legal dept. Then the hospital administator told me that they didn’t have the right to restrict him access and if I wanted to re-schedule they would understand, because by them not restricting his access she said would give him access to her medical chart which also includes personal information like my address. I did spoke with the doctor who said that it would not be life threatening to reschedule. The administrator informed me that she would call me the next day to sort things out and kept apologizing, however I haven’t heard anything yet. Is this grounds for a lawsuit seeing as though their negligence resulted in mine and my children’s safety be jeopardized? Should I speak with a personl injury attorney? In Coffee County, TN

Asked on June 20, 2011 under Malpractice Law, Tennessee

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your situation.  It seems that you have gone to great strides to make sure that you and your daughter are safe.  But I have to say that I do not think that the hospital breached any confidentiality doctrines that would apply to them.  I would have to read the documents involved and I think that you would have to have cleared the documents through the hospital's legal department and have the judge issue the order directly to the hospital to make them liable for anything.  What you may have to do hee is to have the chart redacted of the personal information.  Then there would be no access to the information except through the legal department or through the administration of the hospital.  I would also consider having his rights terminated so that you do not have to go through this anymore.  Speak with an attorney in your area.  Good luck to you.


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