HIPAA Violation Sparks Administrative Leave

A recent suit filed against Atchison Hospital alleges that a rape victim was subject to a second assault and harassment as a result of an employee’s violation of HIPAA protocol. In May of 2017, a woman was hospitalized as a result of “violent sexual assault”. In the process of describing the incident that led her to the hospital, she named the alleged rapist and described the actions that forced her to be hospitalized. The victim was absolutely adamant that the information remains confidential. In accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, commonly shortened to HIPAA, this request should have been mandated and enforced.

The suit further alleges that an X-Ray technician found the file for the victim unsecured in the administrative office. Recognizing the man that was the alleged rapist, she contacted him to inform him of the victim’s accusations. What followed, the victim alleges, is a flood of harassment stemming from both the hospital employee and the alleged rapist. The harassment continued through phone calls, text, and social media. The victim complained the man even stalked her, both publicly and around her home.

Eventually, the X-Ray technician was fired from her position at Atchison Hospital, but the suit further claims that Atchison Hospital indirectly helped the woman get hired at another hospital, Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital. This was accomplished through either not disclosing the events that occurred while employed at Atchison, or not giving a negative review of the employee when called for a reference. When Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital caught wind of the accusation and pending lawsuit, the X-Ray technician was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation. Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital is doing a full investigation in order to address the security concerns and to determine the appropriate course of action for the technician.

Atchison Hospital has followed up with the victim in a letter apologizing for the experience she endured while seeking treatment at the hospital. To prevent future instances of this happening, and to better protect the privacy of patients, Atchison Hospital is doing a full examination of current procedures to better understand how to improve security. Immediate changes were made to better protect the internal administration procedures, and they are continually looking to grow and change the way they do things for the better.