DA Introduces Criminal Inquiry into Activities of Curious Healthcare Worker

Healthcare workers found to have incorrectly retrieved the medical files of patients are expected to be fired by their companies for breaching internal rules and HIPAA Laws. Nevertheless, loss of the job isn’t the only penalty. Workers might also confront a criminal inquiry into their behavior, irrespective of the purpose why medical files were retrieved.

A criminal inquiry is possible if medical files have been retrieved with malevolent intention, however, as has been emphasized this week, even retrieving medical files out of curiosity can lead to the police inquiry.

Previously this week, St. Charles Health System declared that a caregiver had incorrectly retrieved the medical files of about 2,500 patients during a period of 27 months. An internal inquiry into the occurrence was carried out and the worker was challenged.

St. Charles Health System was contended that medical files were retrieved out of interest and the worker was properly controlled. The worker in question also initialed an affirmation in which she verified that she had not utilized any of the info she saw to carry out scam. She asserted she looked at the medical files out of medical curiosity.

As needed by HIPAA Laws, all patients stuck by the secrecy breach were alerted by mail and the issue was informed to the Division of Health and Human Services’ OCR. In compliance with state laws, the office of the Oregon Advocate General was also informed about the breach. The case wasn’t informed to police as the secrecy breach was not established to be an illegal act.

Nevertheless, Deschutes Region District Advocate John Hummel thinks the police must have been informed of “an alleged breach of that scale,” to let a criminal inquiry to be carried out. DA has now started a criminal inquiry into the incident and will co-operate with the police branch to decide whether any criminal rules were disobeyed by the worker. Should that be the situation, criminal indictments will be recorded against the worker.

Although the healthcare supplier was contented that files were not retrieved with any unlawful intention, Hummel clarified that it’s not up to the healthcare supplier to make such a decision. Hummel clarified to NewsChannel21 that “That task is left to police officers, grand juries,  district attorneys, juries and judges in the courtroom,” Hummel went on to describe, “Just like I do not analyze a patient’s health disorder, a medical expert should not attempt to decide whether an offense was carried out.”

One patient has informed getting a phone call from a person declaring to be from St. Charles Health and was presented assistance safeguarding her health info. The phone call wasn’t made by St. Charles Health, even though there is no sign that the phone call was linked to this case. Patients of other healthcare suppliers have also informed receiving similar phone calls.

This case must help as a notice to all healthcare workers. Any wrong retrieving of medical files isn’t only likely to lead to internal penalizing as well as possible loss of work. Criminal inquiries are also possible to be launched and jail time is a probability.