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AOL Chief's Benefits Blunder Also a HIPAA Violation

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, February 17, 2014

She points to another recent case in which California-based Prime Healthcare Services, which operates 16 hospitals in four states, was ordered to pay $275,000 to the federal Office of Civil Rights as punishment for disclosing protected health information of a patient to the media.

Serious Consequences
In 2011, California Watch took on Prime hospital Shasta Regional Medical Center (SRMC) saying the 246-bed hospital in Redding, CA billed Medicare under an expensive code for kwashiorkor, a wasting condition usually found among starving children in tropical climates.

The CW report identified Darlene Courtois, 64, who was in fact extremely overweight, as one of more than 1,030 kwashiorkor cases Shasta Regional billed Medicare.

In an effort to defend itself, Prime shared Courtois' entire medical chart with a newspaper editor and another newspaper's columnist, without Courtois' permission. Prime executives contended that by agreeing to have her story told by California Watch, she waived her medical privacy.

Not so, Knutson says. At least not according to the federal government.

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3 comments on "AOL Chief's Benefits Blunder Also a HIPAA Violation"


Dorinda Sattler (2/20/2014 at 5:39 PM)
HIPAA only applies to covered entities and their business associates. Unless Mr. Armstrong or AOL is either one of these, HIPAA doesn't apply. However, it was still morally and ethically wrong to discuss the information.

sdh (2/20/2014 at 4:00 PM)
It's not a HIPAA violation. It is health information, and I certainly agree that it was a bonehead move to make the comment. However, employee health information held by an employer is not subject to the HIPAA regulations.

Harvey (2/17/2014 at 4:42 PM)
HIPPA violations; everyone but the agencies who are suppose to watch over HIPPA knows of these constant violations.Former Mayor Giuliani violated HIPPA when he tried to come up with an excuse for police shooting an innocent young man. Major League Baseball bought stolen health records and no one says a word about it