Hospital faxed a patient's HIV-positive status to his workplace — he’s now suing for $2.5 million


A man in New York City is suing a hospital for faxing his medical records to his workplace, effectively revealing his HIV-positive diagnosis. (Photo: Getty Images)

In a lawsuit filed this week, a man is suing a New York City hospital for releasing his HIV-positive diagnosis to his workplace via a fax. The unnamed plaintiff is suing the medical facility for negligence and asking for $2.5 million in damages.

As reported in the New York Daily News, the plaintiff is a man in his early 30s who was being treated at the Spencer Cox Center for Health, a facility of Mount Sinai, in 2014. After he requested that the clinic mail his medical forms to a post office box, the suit claims, the clinic disregarded the patient’s instructions and faxed his medical records to his office. The files were found, then circulated among his coworkers, and they ultimately ended up in the hands of his manager.

Detailing the effects of this incident, the suit says that the plaintiff ended up leaving his job due to the stress of the revelation of his HIV status without his consent. “I was in a constant state of apprehension,” the man told the Daily News. “The paranoia and anxiety was too much.”

Mount Sinai took responsibility for the breach of the patient’s confidential medical information and ended up paying $387,000 in fines to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for violations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). But the hospital’s culpability toward the patient has remained unaddressed, he claims — hence the lawsuit filed in New York this past Friday.

In a similar story, a class-action lawsuit was filed last month against health care provider Aetna for allegedly disclosing nearly 12,000 patients’ HIV status via a badly positioned envelope window. The mailers were sent to patients’ addresses, and the suit claims that the HIV status information was clearly visible in the unopened envelopes.

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