Connecticut Supreme Court's recent decision paves the way for claims.

The Connecticut Supreme Court recently released a decision that will help keep your medical records private.  The case might even open the door to lawsuits seeking monetary damages for violations of your right to keep your medical records private.  

For example, assume you are the plaintiff in a medical malpractice lawsuit in Norwich Connecticut.  Assume the case is pending against Hartford Hospital.  At some point the lawyers for Hartford Hospital might subpoena one or your former doctor's records of your prior medical care seeking your past medical care records.  Under the HIPPA privacy rules, before your medical records can to sent out (even with a subpoena) you must be notified of the subpoena, and you must be given the right file a motion in Court to keep your records private.  What happens if the hospital fails to give you the chance to file your motion in Court to keep your records private?

The HIPPA privacy rules.

The HIPPA privacy rules require doctors, hospitals, and other organizations to keep your medical records and protected health information private.  But under HIPPA, there is no right to sue when someone violates the HIPPA rules.  Instead, you can file a complaint with the Department of Public Heath.  That complaint procedure has no teeth to it.  It is not much of a remedy at all.  It is a rule with no real remedy when the rule is broken.

There is no private right to sue under HIPPA.  What can you do to protect your rights?

How can you protect your privacy rights?

Can you sue to enforce your right to privacy under the state common-law right to privacy, and claim that the HIPPA rules provide a standard of care that forms the basis for your common-law right to privacy case?  The answer is we are not sure--yet. 

In a recently released decision in the case Bryne v. Avery Center for Obstetrics and Gynecology, P.C. the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that HIPPA does not preempt state law claims based on the right to privacy.  So, it is possible that you can still pursue a state law right to privacy lawsuit seeking money damages when your medical records are released without your consent.  The question of whether Connecticut provides a remedy under existing law is not clear and the Supreme Court did not address that question.  It only confirmed that HIPPA does not preempt state law.  We will have to wait for another day to know whether a medical record privacy breach can form the basis for a claim for money damages.

Where to get help?

If you or anyone you know has suffered a serious injury caused by someone else's conduct, we can help.  Contact The Bartinik Law Firm, P.C., 100 Fort Hill Road, Groton, Connecticut at 860-445-8521 or toll free at 888-717-4211.

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut
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