An unnamed Cincinnati woman has filed a lawsuit against the University of Cincinnati (UC) Medical Center alleging that their employees posted her private medical records, including her positive diagnosis for a sexually transmitted disease, on Facebook. Mike Allen, the woman’s attorney, spoke to WLWT News 5, "She was absolutely devastated. That is the most private of private medical information that was posted on Facebook and went out to a group on Facebook that had a huge dissemination.” A screenshot of the woman’s medical record with her personal information and syphilis diagnosis, was posted to a Facebook group called “Team No Hoes,” which has over 2,300 members. The court documents indicate that comments followed the post calling the woman a “’hoe’ and a ‘slut.’”
The lawsuit names UC employee Ryan Rawls, another unnamed UC employee (believed to be a nurse), and the victim’s ex-boyfriend, Raphael Bradley. The station tried to get a comment from the named defendants but there was no answer at either home.
Allen said that the woman’s ex-boyfriend convinced the UC employees to release the medical records, which was in violation of state and federal laws. "To have that kind of information in the public domain when it is clearly legally to be protected, that's a problem and that's a problem that UC's responsible for," the attorney said.
Diana Lara, spokeswoman for the UC Medical Center, told WLWT that they have not yet received the lawsuit, and they could not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit is asking UC Medical Center to examine their procedures to prevent an incident like this in the future. They are also seeking more than $25,000 in damages and a jury trial. About his client, Allen said, "She doesn't want to go out. She doesn't want to talk to people. People who were formerly her friends have made fun of her for it. She's chastised in the community and all of this could've been avoided if UC Med Center had proper protections in place."
UPDATE June 6, 2014 2:20 PM PDT:
Lee Ann Liska, President and CEO of the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, has released a statement regarding this case. It reads in part,
“UC Health became aware of this incident shortly after the screenshot of this patient’s billing record appeared on Facebook, when she brought it to our attention. We took swift action and our investigation revealed that the record had been accessed by a Financial Services employee who did not have a business reason to do so. This employee had been fully trained and acknowledged her responsibilities under law and UC Health policy, but apparently accessed the billing record through a personal motivation. The individual’s employment was terminated, and we reported the incident to federal authorities. This occurred within days of the patient making us aware of this occurrence… We are outraged that anyone might misuse a position with UC Health to attempt to embarrass or cause harm to another person. This is contrary to our ethic and the training we provide to our associates, and we took immediate action as a result.”
Liska also writes that after their investigation, no other UC Medical Center employees were determined to be involved. The entire response can be read here.