[ Monday, May 15, 2017 ]


Memorial Hermann: Memorial Hermann in Houston had a patient who used a fake ID to get services; the staff called the cops, who arrested the patient.  Apparently, the patient was an illegal immigrant (undocumented alien, if you wish, but being an undocumented alien is against the law, hence the word "illegal").  If I recall correctly, Memorial Hermann got hammered in the press for "reporting" this illegal alien who was only trying to get healthcare (actually, steal healthcare by using someone else's ID, but let's not quibble).  Memorial Hermann responded to the bad press by issuing its own press release, which (again, if I'm remembering correctly) actually was pretty apologetic about calling the cops on someone who was actually committing a crime.

However, Memorial Hermann put the patient's name in the press release.  In fact, they put it in the title of the press release.  Sure, they were responding to news reports that had already identified the patient, so disclosing the patient's name didn't increase the stakes any.  But, that's still a HIPAA no-no.  And they have been fined, big-time: $2,400,000.  As the HHS release notes, providing the name to the police was A-OK.

Lesson here: don't name patients if you don't have to.  Be extremely careful in responding to bad news or bad reviews -- you can make general pronouncements, but you can't identify individuals.

Jeff [12:04 PM]

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