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Is disclosing my health care information a breach of contract?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires all medical providers to keep their patients' protected health information (PHI) including diagnoses secure so that no one other than a few select individuals can access that information. A patient's health care provider may be sued for breach of contract if they fail to store this data securely.

Federal HIPAA legislation does not contain a private cause of action clause in it. This means that even if a health care provider does breach their contractual obligation to a patient to uphold their privacy, they aren't able to sue a medical professional for such indiscretion.

It's possible, though, for a patient to file suit if the jurisdiction that they live in has its own health care privacy laws in place. Would-be plaintiffs are often able to file a breach of implied contract or negligence lawsuits in such instances. Much like with any other civil suit, plaintiffs would need to be able to provide evidence that they suffered some type of harm or damage by their data being made public.

Many patients who do find out about their information being made public often find it too complicated or expensive to pursue legal action on their own against large medical practices responsible for these breaches.

Compiling the evidence necessary to prove that some type of indiscretion occurred can be daunting. Trying a case against an in-house team of lawyers with endless monetary resources can be costly. This is why many would-be plaintiffs end up filing claims with the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights or joining class-action lawsuits against them. In the case of the latter, patients share in litigation costs.

HIPAA breaches are serious, as they have the potential of exposing a person's personal health information to others. Once this happens, it can put a patient in a position to have the data used against them. This is something that can greatly impact a person's ability to live a comfortable life.

If your medical provider has failed to uphold their obligation to you to keep your medical information private, then you'll want to discuss your case with an attorney. Your lawyer will advise you of any legal options that you may be able to pursue in your case here in Melbourne or elsewhere in Florida.

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