Breach of Privacy: Ex-Billing Company Owners and Pathology Groups to Pay $140K for Health Records Accidentally Thrown in Georgetown, MA Public Dump

The ex-owners of Goldthwait Associates, which is a billing company based in Marblehead, and four pathology groups have reached a breach of privacy settlement with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office over the accidental dumping of sensitive health records at a public dump in Georgetown. The collection of tossed papers included the records of over 67,000 people. Included in these documents were people’s names, SS numbers, addresses, and test results. A Boston Globe photographer had found the tossed records in 2010 when he was throwing out his trash.

Under federal and state laws, health records have to be gotten rid of in a way that destroys any personal information. This usually involves burning or shredding the documents. Even though no evidence exists to show that the poor handling of these files resulted in anyone using the information improperly, in a press release, Attorney General Martha Coakley said that thousands of patients were likely placed at risk from this information breach. She noted that it is important that personal health information is protected as it goes from doctors to third-party contractors.

Coakely’s office contends that several pathology groups, who were also defendants in this case, violated Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulation when they didn’t ensure the proper safeguards to make sure that the patient information was protected when they gave the files to Goldthwait Associates. Her office also alleges violation of data security regulations of the state due to the groups’ failure make sure that the billing company they retained would make sure the proper security measures were in place to protect the confidential information.

Doctors, billing company pay $140,000 penalty for records tossed in public dump,, January 7, 2013

Former Owners of Medical Billing Practice, Pathology Groups Agree to Pay $140,000 to Settle Claims that Patients’ Health Information was Disposed of at Georgetown Dump,, January 7, 2013

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Middleborough Woman Sues Tufts Medical Center for Breach of Privacy and Seeks Punitive Damages, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 14, 2011

Alaska Medicaid to Pay $1.7M to Settle HIPAA Lawsuit Over Hard Drive Data Breach, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, June 27, 2012

Boston Personal Injury?: Use of Psychotropic Drugs Can Prove Fatal for Some Elderly Patients, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 30, 2011
Breach of Privacy
If a Massachusetts hospital has lost your medical records, you may have the right to sue. Contact a Boston breach of privacy law firm to find out whether you have grounds for a case.

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