Not Much Protection From Snoopy Nurse, Worker Claims
LOS ANGELES (CN) – Kaiser did not adequately protect a woman when a nurse snooped through her family’s medical records, she claims in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The woman, identified in the lawsuit as J.H., and her three sons, identified as R.N., B.H. and M.H., sued Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc., Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and The Permanente Medical Group, Inc. for violations of the California Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), California’s privacy/data breach notice statute, the California Constitution, labor code, government code, and evidence code and health and safety code, invasion of privacy, negligence, negligent hiring, retention and supervision, breach of fiduciary duty, employer/healthcare provider retaliation and wrongful termination/wrongful constructive termination.
J.H. is a Kaiser employee and she and her sons are all Kaiser patients, according to the lawsuit.
In April 2018, J.H. was called into a meeting where she was informed that her medical records, and her sons’, had been compromised, according to the complaint.
“In turned out that Kaiser had discovered some time before this Privacy Violation Meeting that another Kaiser employee, a nurse, J.H.’s roommate whom J.H. at one point believed to be a friend, for a period of at least a year or more had been intentionally and without authorization accessing and viewing J.H.’s private and confidential patient medical records, J.H.’s PHI,” the complaint states.
The Kaiser privacy compliance investigator who called the meeting referred to the privacy breach as “a ‘Single White Female’ situation,” and recommended that J.H. get a restraining order against the nurse, according to the complaint.
“The reference to ‘Single White Female’ is critical in this case especially related to the severe negative impact and substantial emotional distress Kaiser’s conduct inflicted upon J.H. The movie ‘Single White Female’ essentially revolves around the story of a woman who befriends her roommate and ultimately murders her roommate’s fiancé, beats and attempts to murder her roommate, and kills her roommate’s puppy in an attempt to become or steal her roommate’s identity,” the complaint states.
“Kaiser directly linked the Kaiser nurse, who violated plaintiff’s PHI privacy rights and trolled through plaintiff’s medical records, to the serial killer woman in the ‘Single White Female’ movie. In fact Kaiser made these representations and associations when Kaiser specifically knew or should have known that plaintiff J.H. and the Kaiser employee nurse were roommates,” it continues.
Having thus scared J.H., and after recommending a restraining order, Kaiser did not help J.H. and her family get the recommended restraining order, according to the complaint. J.H. contends Kaiser should have done so.
“Understandably, the privacy violations themselves and the knowledge that Kaiser and/or its employee had been trolling through J.H.’s and her family’s medical records caused serious emotional trauma to J.H. Moreover the fact that Kaiser took no or little to no action to protect J.H. or her family further exacerbated the damage. Of course also Kaiser’s description of the situation as a single white female scenario had massive detrimental and frightening impact on J.H.,” the complaint states.
J.H. claims Kaiser retaliated against her for hiring an attorney, by initiating an unwarranted human resources investigation into her, and terminating her salary and health insurance coverage.
“Of note, Kaiser did not technically ‘terminate’ J.H.’s employment. Rather Kaiser intentionally left J.H. hanging in the wind with no pay, no insurance, but technically still a Kaiser employee. Regardless, this amounts to, at bare minimum, a constructive termination as Kaiser effectively terminated J.H. other than terming its conduct as a termination,” the complaint states.
J.H. and her sons seek statutory, punitive and treble damages, equitable/injunctive relief, statutory damages and penalties, attorney’s fees, costs of suit and a jury trial. They are represented by Torin A. Dorros of Dorros Law in Beverly Hills.