Patient sues Indiana hospital after TV reporter intercepts her personal info

An Indiana appeals court will decide whether a hospital in the state violated a patient's privacy rights when it left her data open to electronic interception, The Herald Bulletin reported Jan. 22.

Indiana resident Brittany Rubendall sued Community Hospital Anderson in 2020 after a local Fox TV reporter was able to pick up personal information from her and hundreds of other patients using a ham radio-like device and translation software, according to the story.

The reporter had been following up on a tip that the hospital's pager system was vulnerable to intrusion, possibly violating privacy regulations, the Bulletin reported. Though the story never ran, the reporter had reached out to Ms. Rubendall for comment.

In September, a district court judge ruled in favor of the hospital, saying there was "no evidence that the public knew or that the public was sure to know Rubendall’s private information," the news outlet reported. But the Indiana Court of Appeals heard oral arguments Jan. 19.

"As a practical matter, medical privacy in Indiana now teeters on the brink of extinction," her lawyer, Neal Eggeso, wrote in a legal brief, according to the story. But Jenny Buchheit, an attorney for the hospital, said during the hearing: "If we keep eking away with exceptions and exceptions and exceptions, at what point do we completely slide down the hill?"

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