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Can a HIPAA Violation Lead to a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Posted on in Medical Malpractice
Can a HIPAA Violation Lead to a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

In Illinois, the lead plastic surgeon Dr. Shah of A New You clinic in Cook County will potentially pay $50,000 for grossly violating a woman's privacy by intentionally posting pictures of her breast augmentation online and causing her emotional distress.

The woman, who has chosen to be identified only as Jane Doe, visited the suburban clinic on an early afternoon in December to speak to Dr. Shah about a tummy tuck and a breast augmentation surgery. During the consultation, Jane Doe agreed to have the surgery, where Dr. Shah took photos of her exposed breasts with an iPhone to document the progress of her surgery. Although Jane Doe had signed a consent form during her consultation expressing that she did not want her photos used for public advertising, the clinic posted her pictures on their website anyway. The woman says she immediately recognized herself from the "highly distinctive freckle pattern on her chest which is easily recognizable by friends and family" and has been "humiliated" by the release of the photos, suffering "intense fear that her close family members" would discover them. The photos were up for an entire year before the she discovered them.

What is the Law on Violating a Patient's Privacy?

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, otherwise known as HIPAA, was established under federal privacy laws. According to HIPAA, your medical records and other personal information such as your medical history are confidential. This can include your family medical history, information about your lifestyle, past procedures, laboratory test results, prescribed medications, and paternity testing results.

In Illinois, the HIPAA laws are aligned to the federal laws where your medical information is completely private, except if you need or have:

  • Emergency treatment and are unconscious;
  • A court case involving an accident or workers' compensation where you introduce your health or injuries;
  • A communicable disease that the government requires specific reporting.
  • Can I Sue My Doctor for a HIPAA Violation?

Unfortunately, doctors who violate HIPAA laws cannot be sued for medical malpractice, unless the violation is directly linked to a doctor failing to provide the proper standard of care.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor does not fulfill the industry's standards of care. You may be a victim of medical malpractice if you are injured because your doctor did not follow the regular procedures of their industry. For example, if your doctor gives you medical advice or provides you with medical treatment without explaining the nature of your procedure, he or she is not fulfilling his or her standards of care by not informing you of the potential risks your procedure might carry. Worse, if you suffer from injuries as a result of lacking knowledge about your procedure, you could potentially sue for malpractice.

How can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help Me?

At Newland & Newland, LLP, our goal is to help people who have suffered injuries while under a doctor's care and to make filing a lawsuit a positive experience for you and your loved ones. Our team is compassionate, professional, and knowledgeable in Illinois medical malpractice lawsuits and is committed to working hard on your case. If you are suffering from a doctor-related injury in the Arlington Heights, Libertyville, Chicago, Fox River Grove, or Itasca areas, contact us at 847-797-8000 for a complimentary evaluation of your case, or visit us online and complete the consultation form. For information about our firm, please visit our homepage and learn more on how we can help you.

(image courtesy of Hush Naidoo)

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