Lawsuit claims Houston Methodist secretly taped patient calls

Eric Haufrect, MD, has filed a lawsuit against Houston Methodist Hospital, alleging the hospital secretly recorded telephone conversations for as long as eight years without the consent of patients, nurses or physicians, according to the Houston Business Journal.

Dr. Haufrect, who has been with Houston Methodist since 1977, claims he complained to top hospital executives after a nurse told him about the secret recordings in October 2016. Dr. Haufrect alleges he was concerned the recordings of "confidential and privileged communications between patients and nurses that were intended for the ultimate use and consideration of physicians" were a violation of HIPAA or other privacy laws, according to the report.

Dr. Haufrect claims that less than two months after he raised concerns about the recordings, hospital officials retaliated against him by asking him to step down as vice chairman of the obstetrics and gynecology department.

Houston Methodist President and CEO Marc Boom, MD, told the Houston Business Journal there was no retaliation against Dr. Haufrect.

"Let me assure you that there was no campaign to impugn Dr. Haufrect, who lost his leadership position because he did not fulfill his duties," Dr. Boom said in an emailed statement to the Houston Business Journal.

Commenting on the alleged secret taping of phone calls, Dr. Broom said, "Recordings, which are legal under Texas law, are made on some appointment lines at Houston Methodist to improve patient service. However, after Dr. Haufrect raised this concern, an investigation was immediately conducted, and appropriate actions were taken."

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