CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WCMH) — A Chillicothe hospital is facing a class action lawsuit over how it is allegedly handling patient data.
The lawsuit claims Adena Health unlawfully disclosed patients’ confidential and personally identifiable information to third parties. It has some former patients worried and speaking out, claiming it seems like a slap in the face.
“You’re supposed to be able to trust your caregivers with that information. You shouldn’t have to worry about it,” former Adena Health patient Tania Sizemore said.
The lawsuit claims the information in question is personal information such as medical conditions and previous appointments that can easily be linked to a patient.
“It makes you wonder,” Sizemore said.
Sizemore was an Adena patient since she was in the seventh grade. She recently switched to another hospital. Now, she’s concerned.
“I didn’t take their after-visit summaries. I would always just look at MyChart. Just read them and look at diagnosis and stuff,” Sizemore said.
Wanda Free is also a former Adena patient. She said reading the lawsuit has her disappointed.
“I thought, ‘How can they do that? I mean, do they have the right?’” Free said.
The lawsuit claims Adena installed tracking tools on its website including MyChart, which is an online patient portal where patients can access their medical records. The lawsuit alleges this information was then sent to undisclosed third parties such as Facebook and Google.
“I just read it over and over and I thought how can they do that? You know, I mean, how can they just keep going on and on doing things?” Free said.
The lawsuit alleges patients’ privacy has been invaded and there is an ongoing risk to their private information.
“I feel like it’s a smack in the face,” Sizemore said.
Adena sent NBC4 a statement saying:
“We cannot comment on pending litigation, however, Adena Health places the utmost importance on the health and privacy of our patients and the communities we serve. Adena will continue to follow all regulatory guidelines pertaining to this issue while remaining committed to providing our patients with the best possible technology to help them along their health care journey.”
Adena Health statement
Disclosure of health and medical communications is tightly regulated. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says healthcare providers cannot disclose protected health information without permission. Doing so would be a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The Federal Trade Commission and HHS have warned healthcare providers about tracking systems. HIPAA violations have cost other hospitals thousands — and in some cases millions — of dollars in fines.
“I don’t know, I’m just disappointed in Adena,” Free said. “It’s such a nice facility to have the things happen that’s happened. But I was not comfortable going back there for anything.”
The two women left Adena for reasons unrelated to this lawsuit. They are also not a part of the class action lawsuit.
Adena has a little under three weeks to respond to the summons.
The complaint can be read below.