Senior Communications Manager
Kirk Nahra Comments on Leak of Sensitive Patient Data in Public Court Documents
Kirk J. Nahra, chair of Wiley Rein’s Privacy Practice and co-chair of the Health Care Practice, was quoted in a September 23 Healthcare Info Security article about a recent federal bankruptcy court ruling involving North Carolina-based WakeMed Health and Hospitals. WakeMed was ordered to pay $70,000 in punitive damages—as well as to cover legal expenses for two individuals who filed complaints—for the unauthorized disclosure of patient health information in documents it filed with the court. The breach, part of WakeMed’s attempt to recoup money it was owed by patients who had filed for bankruptcy, demonstrates the need for health care organizations to better train staff on how to properly handle patient health data in court documents, according to the article. In some cases, it may not even be necessary to include such information in court filings.
“There is a real tension between some ‘public records’ laws related to court filings and other kinds of laws,” Mr. Nahra said. “Major advice is to always be incredibly careful whenever you are disclosing any kind of patient information in any kind of public setting – it is possible that you need to do it, but usually there is a better way. ”
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