[ Tuesday, January 23, 2007 ]


What I've been saying all along: A North Carolina appeals court has overturned a trial court's dismissal of a claim against a psychiatrist, noting that while there is no private cause of action under HIPAA by a person whose PHI has been improperly used or disclosed, there IS a private cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress, and a HIPAA violation could be evidence of failure to meet the standard of care. In Acosta v. Byrum, the trial court rejected the claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress against the psychiatrist, who allegedly allowed his office manager access to plaintiff's mental health records, stating that the claim did not specify what HIPAA standard the psychiatrist violated, and therefore granted summary judgment to the psychiatrist. The appeals court noted that there was no need to specify what standard was violated, since the pleadiing need only put the psychiatrist on notice as to the basis of the claim to survive summary judgment; the court also noted the lack of a private cause of action under HIPAA, but correctly observed that the claim here wasn't a HIPAA breach, but a common-law tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress, and the HIPAA breach is simply evidence that the standard of care was not met.

BNA's short summary (subscription required) is here. BNA's copy of the unofficial opinion is here.

Jeff [2:30 PM]

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