Couple sues Virginia Mason Medical Center for 2nd time after winning $8.5M verdict

A Washington couple filed a second lawsuit against Seattle-based Virginia Mason Medical Center, alleging the institution failed to provide information about multiple privacy breaches involving their medical and financial records, according to K-5 News.

Matthew and Sarah Hipps, MD, previously sued VMMC in 2013. According to court records, Mr. Hipps claimed medical negligence after a botched surgery, conducted by a surgeon he did not authorize, left him with numerous complications that necessitated additional surgeries and care. A jury sided with the couple and awarded them $8.5 million in April.

In their second lawsuit, the couple alleged the medical center failed to provide additional information about a privacy breach involving their personal information.

The complaint states VMMC sent them formal letters May 1 notifying them their medical and financial records had been breached and seen by an unknown number of unauthorized employees. The letter reportedly disclosed the breaches took place on April 5, the day the jury announced the verdict in the previous lawsuit, and again April 6, when media reports surfaced detailing the verdict, according to the report.

The couple decided to pursue legal action against the medical center after officials failed to provide additional information about the breach after repeated inquiries, including who committed the breach and if their information had been released, according to the report.

"After having our lives completely turned upside down by Virginia Mason's dishonesty and unethical practices, and then believing our rights had finally been restored, we're back in the same place," said Mr. Hipps said in a statement. "It boggles my mind that, not once, were they willing to sit down and explain the story of what happened face-to-face. We just want this resolved."

Virginia Mason provided the following statement to Becker's: "We deeply regret that this event occurred and we are taking appropriate, corrective action with respect to the employees involved. Our organization has policies and procedures to ensure all employees understand our ethical responsibilities and legal obligations for safeguarding and respecting our patients' personal information."

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