The Office for Civil Rights just announced a $125,000 settlement and a two-year corrective action plan with Allergy Associates of Hartford, P.C. One of the physicians working for the practice allegedly shared a protected health information to the media when asked for a comment on the dispute between the Allergy Associates and a patient. The dispute arose from a patient's allegation that Allergy Associates refused services to the patient because she happened to used a service animal. The television station contacted Allergy Associates of Hartford for a comment and practice's physician (despite Privacy Officer’s instructions) disclosed the PHI of the patient to the television station.
Remember that HIPAA generally prohibits health care providers from disclosing a patient’s protected health information to media unless either (i) the patient or their personal representative authorizes the disclosure, or (ii) the disclosure fits within a HIPAA exception.