Kennedy Sues Nurses, Hospital After Scuffle
A part of me wants to avoid further commentary about this case because it is, as one of my former editors used to say, "cats in a bag:" A back-and-forth struggle that's messy and ugly and where no one really wins.
Over the past 11 months, the he-said, she-said war of words between the two sides has somehow become more toxic than the original physical scuffle that set off this crazy set of circumstances.
But one thing about the Kennedy's new lawsuit caught my eye. In addition to alleging assault, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and malicious prosecution, the Kennedy suit also alleges breach of confidentiality on the part of the hospital and the nurses.
The lawsuit claims that that there were unauthorized disclosures of Molly Kennedy's (the baby's mom) federally protected health information, including her medical records, as well as her infant son's medical records and a video surveillance tape from Jan. 7. In other words, in addition to the physical confrontation, the Kennedys are also alleging a HIPAA violation.
The hallway scuffle—which prompted the nurses involved to call a "code pink" for an infant abduction and a "code purple" for a combative person—is certainly the aspect of this case that's garnered the most media attention.
Let's face it; HIPAA's just not that sexy. But penalties for HIPAA violations can include huge monetary fines and even imprisonment. And those fines are about to increase, now that HHS has release its so-called "mega" final HIPAA rule.
The Kennedys allege that the hospital not only provided the nurses and their attorney with Molly Kennedy's protected health information. The complaint also notes that the information then aired on NBC's Today Show and other news outlets.
The Kennedys say that this damaged Molly Kennedy, "causing her to suffer from extreme emotional distress, and continue to suffer psychological injuries and pain with suffering of mind, fears, depression, anxiety, all of which, upon information and belief, have caused and will cause the need for psychological intervention and treatment."
I don't know how this will turn out, but I'm guessing that these cats aren't leaving the bag any time soon.
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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