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Disclosure of personal information can harm patients

One Ohio woman unexpectedly became the recipient of a slew of people’s private medical information after her personal home fax machine was somehow wrongly entered into a local hospital’s system. Over the course of a year, the woman said that she began receiving multiple faxes from the hospital, many of which contained details of patients’ personally identifiable information and medical histories. She noted that it seemed as if no one was present to check on the system’s operation and the results of the repeated attempted faxes.

The woman contacted local media after she attempted to call the hospital’s front desk and management office, asking them to stop the faxes. She faxed a request for the hospital to stop sending her private medical information as well, but it went ignored. When a local news station contacted the hospital’s management team, it said that it identified several faxes sent to the woman due to an error in a fax number entered. The hospital said that it was reaching out to the patient whose personal information was disclosed.

Keeping personal health information private is a responsibility of doctors and other medical professionals. When people think about medical malpractice, they often think about the kind of doctor or hospital error that takes lives, such as surgical errors or mistaken diagnoses leading to harmful, incorrect treatments. However, doctors can be held accountable for other types of harm, including reputational or other damages created by the wrongful disclosure of medical information in violation of the standard of care.

Whether they face losses due to the disclosure of private medical information or have been directly harmed by a medical mistake, patients can suffer as a result of doctors’ actions. Injured patients may wish to consult with Columbus, Ohio, medical malpractice injury lawyers to discuss next steps and the potential to seek compensation for the harms done.