Yesterday, I posted a news story about lawsuits over HIPAA privacy breaches, and I asked readers to think about what kind of harm or injury did they think would justify a lawsuit. Later yesterday, I read a piece about AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center in New Jersey that seemed relevant to that question.
The piece, provocatively headlined, “Privacy Unimportant at AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center,” was written by Scott Bishop, and was published on Communal News. It is not clear to me what may have motivated Bishop to write about patient complaints against the center — whether he personally knows someone affected or whether he has any connection to an unnamed law firm that may be representing plaintiffs in litigation against the center and Geisinger. There is no disclosure notice or statement of his credentials or any statement about any potential conflict of interest.
Bishop describes a number of alleged incidents at the center that I suspect most of us would agree violate patient privacy if they were accurately described. And what may infuriate readers is the center’s alleged response to the privacy complaints.
You can read it all on Communal News. I looked up the phone number at the end of the OpEd, expecting to find that it is the phone number of a law firm, but it doesn’t appear to be, and I cannot figure out why “Pot Head Love LLC” would have anything to do with this issue or OpEd. I’d ask Bishop, but I refuse to register for that site just to ask him.
DataBbreaches.net reached out to AtlantiCare to ask for a reaction to the allegations and Bishop’s piece. The following statement was provided by Jennifer Tornetta, MBA, APR Director, Media Relations and Public Affairs for AtlantiCare:
The blog by Scott Bishop on the Communal News website contains false and misleading information. Mr. Bishop did not contact us to make a reasonable effort to verify the information. We are aware of and have communicated with an individual who purports to be a former patient, and who expressed personal dissatisfaction with certain customer service issues, on whom we believe this blog is based. This individual has without any basis made significant financial demands of AtlantiCare on multiple occasions, including through offensive and threatening communications.
The Communal News says on its website, “Contributors need to keep opinions out when reporting the news,” and “submitting a non-conforming, well-sourced and documented argument is not only accepted, we will rewarded (sic) it.” At this time we are not aware of any of the other incidents the author sensationally attributes to third parties or anonymous patients.
The privacy, safety, and compassionate care of our patients is our priority. In the event that there is room for patient service improvement, AtlantiCare is committed to open and transparent self-improvement. Unsubstantiated, unfounded, and unsourced claims such as those in this blog do an injustice to our staff, providers and all those in the healthcare industry who are dedicated to and focused upon caring for patients.
And that’s where I’ll leave this one, unless Mr. Bishop comes up with actual documentation and verifiable statements that would warrant more coverage.