Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 | 5:01 p.m.
- Hospital privacy leak could harm patients (11-20-09)
Contact the Sun
- Accident patients who have been treated at UMC and contacted by legal representatives are invited to contact reporter Marshall Allen at 259-2330 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The FBI said Friday that it has begun "evaluating" the unauthorized release of confidential patient records after officials at University Medical Center met with them in an attempt to determine how the materials have been compromised.
"We have been contacted by UMC and they have provided us information regarding it," said FBI Special Agent Joseph Dickey. "And we are evaluating it. I can acknowledge that we are discussing it."
Dickey said he could not confirm whether the FBI had officially opened an investigation into the matter, which arose after allegations in The Sun on Friday detailed how private patient information from UMC had been leaking for months, allegedly in order to help lawyers find new clients.
But the FBI official stressed that federal investigators are taking the matter seriously in that it appears to violate the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPPA. That law was set up to guard patient privacy.
"The allegations seem to be very serious," Dickey said. "Absolutely, they are serious, on a number of fronts. There could be multiple federal laws that are violated."
He added that this is the first time he has seen such a potential violation in Las Vegas.
It is believed that someone at UMC is selling a collection of the records from daily hospital registration forms for patients injured in accidents. Hospital officials told the Sun that they have known of the "rumors" for months but doubted their veracity until shown copies of the materials by the newspaper.