Kansas hospital sued for allegedly leaking patient's PHI to rape suspect

A former Atchison (Kans.) Hospital patient filed a lawsuit in federal court May 8 against the hospital and one of its former X-ray technicians for allegedly leaking her protected health information to the man she claims raped her, Kansas City Star reports.

The woman was raped again by the same assailant a few months after the Atchison Hospital employee allegedly shared her PHI, the lawsuit states.

In May 2017, Atchison Hospital staff administered a rape kit examination following the patient's sexual assault. After the patient's examination, one of the hospital's X-ray technicians allegedly called the woman's rapist and told him the woman accused him of sexual assault, the lawsuit states.

The technician did not use the hospital's EHR system to access the patient's information but instead used its health information department, according to the report. Atchison Hospital fired the technician four months after the security breach.

The report included the name of the patient's alleged assailant, and information collected was protected under HIPAA, the lawsuit states. Additionally, the woman was "adamant," that her PHI would not be released to third parties, according to the report.

An Atchison Hospital official sent the patient a letter, signed by CEO John Jacobsen, apologizing for the breach. The letter disclosed that the hospital immediately launched an investigation and discovered the X-ray technician was not a member of her immediate care team. The hospital said it fired the employee responsible for the breach and made changes to its security and privacy policies.

"We are confident that our investigative process and remedial steps will help to minimize the risk that this type of incident may occur again the future," the letter said, according to the report.

The patient's claims against the hospital include invasion of privacy, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty and punitive damages. She claims she is entitled to more than $75,000 in damages for each count, the publication reports.

Editor's note: Becker's Hospital Review reached out to Atchison Hospital for comment and will update as more information is available.

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