Former Lehigh Valley patient claims physician inappropriately accessed his medical records

A former Lehigh Valley Health Network patient is suing the Allentown, Pa.-based health system over claims that an LVHN-affiliated physician who was not treating him illegally accessed his medical records for months, The Morning Call reports. 

HHS recently cited LVHN for failing to protect confidential patient information. The health department concluded its report from a May 6 investigation that found LVHN did not make changes to protect patient data despite the health system's discovery that a physician had inappropriately accessed medical information of patient he was not treating for several months in 2017, according to the report.

The HHS citation did not identify the LVHN patient whose privacy was breached, but it did note that the individual was discharged April 1, 2017, the publication reports. This is the same date that Steven Kahlon, who sued LVHN in 2018 for a privacy breach, was discharged from Lehigh Valley Hospital. Mr. Kahlon received a May 6 letter from HHS that stated the department investigated his complaints and found violations of state and federal regulations regarding LVHN's privacy breach.

Brian Downs, an LVHN spokesman, told The Morning Call that while the health system could not explicitly explain its policies on access and sharing of patient data across its Epic EHR while the case is in litigation, Lehigh Valley Hospital has a secure review process.

"LVH has an aggressive and continuous review process to ensure the appropriate caregivers are accessing medical records correctly," Mr. Downs said. "…LVHN acted quickly when made aware of this situation and we remain in contact with the Department of Health on this issue."

In the lawsuit, Mr. Kahlon claims Johnny Shea-Yuan Chung, MD, entered his Lehigh Valley Hospital room in 2017 and told Mr. Kahlon he must sign documents that would absolve his ownership of a business the two men owned together, according to the report. Mr. Kahlon alleges Dr. Chung found his hospital room by looking at his health records. Between February and June 2017, "[Dr.] Chung, or someone using [Dr.] Chung's authorization code, engaged in unauthorized access to [Mr.] Kahlon's EMR," on at least 12 different occasions, according to LVHN's April 24, 2018, response to Mr. Kahlon's lawsuit.

Dr. Chung no longer has privileges at Lehigh Valley Hospital, and he left "during the time LVHN was investigating a patient complaint," Mr. Downs said. Dr. Chung, who was never employed by LVHN, is a plastic surgeon at Aesthetic Surgery Associates in Allentown. Both Dr. Chung and Mr. Kahlon declined The Morning Call's requests for comment. 

To access the full report, click here.

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