Everyone has a right to privacy and a right to maintain their information confidential when it comes to medical treatments. Unfortunately, a hospital in Portland, Oregon is facing allegations that a former employee shared images of a burn victim who later died of his injuries, resulting in a major breach of patient confidentiality.
In July 2020, a former employee of Providence Portland Medical Center was accused of disclosing private health information of a burn victim who tragically died from his injuries. The individual allegedly shared images of the victim’s burns to throw the hospital under the bus for denying him necessary care.
The hospital quickly denounced the alleged actions of the former employee saying they had “zero tolerance for any violation of patient privacy” and that they “take patient privacy seriously”. In response, the hospital fired the accused individual and launched an investigation into the matter.
Besides the drama unfolding in Portland, other hospitals across the US have also been affected by similar breaches of patient confidentiality. For instance, the wife of a patient who died after catching fire due to a defibrillator issue sued TriStar Centennial Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, for wrongful death. In this case, the hospital was accused of sharing the patient’s confidential health information with a third party and failing to take the necessary measures to protect it.
Additionally, in 2015, a patient at Paducah-based West Kentucky Veteran’s Administration Hospital filed a complaint against a doctor there, alleging he photographed his erect penis and asked about his taste in pornography. Later, it was discovered that another 37 patients had filed similar complaints against the doctor, resulting in criminal charges against him.
It goes without saying that such incidents have no place in a hospital setting. Not only are they violations of privacy, but they can also have deadly consequences for patients. Thankfully, most hospitals are aware of the importance of protecting patient information and take their responsibility seriously. They are expected to invest in modern security measures to prevent these types of incidents from occurring.
Every hospital should ensure that all staff members are aware of patient confidentiality laws and HIPAA rules and take steps to enforce them. Failure to do so can lead to serious consequences, both legally and financially. It is essential for hospitals to ensure that they have strict policies in place and that staff are fully trained to handle patients’ private information ethically.