By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
After a two-year investigation by the Chicago Office for Civil Rights (OCR), three Michigan abortion that violated federal HIPAA laws by throwing confidential patient records into clinic dumpsters, got off with little more than a reprimand.
According to a press release from Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, Woman Care, Sharpes Family Planning and Women’s Advisory abortion clinics were found to have violated the law by throwing patient records in the trash. These records included intake forms, abortion appointment schedule sheets, recovery room reports, lab reports, insurance forms, photo-copied driver’s licenses and other documents that revealed personal health care information.
Monica Migliorino Miller, director of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society filed a complaint with the OCR in September of 2008 after members of her organization recovered hundreds of records from the clinic dumpsters. In addition to the patient records, extensive bio-hazard waste and the remains of aborted unborn children were also discovered amongst the trash.
Two years after Miller’s complaint was filed, the OCR notified her that the OCR supported her allegations and that two of the clinics, Sharpes Family Planning and Women’s Advisory “acknowledged that the disclosures occurred as alleged.” The third clinic, Woman Care, blamed the situation on a janitorial service.
Miller said that when the discovery was first made public, abortionist Alberto Hodari, who owns Woman Care, told Michigan authorities that poorly trained clinic staff was responsible.
“However, we found numerous patient records several weeks in a row along with all of the horrid bio-hazard waste,” Miller said. “I believe that this was the usual Hodari protocol and that he was dumping patient records, bio-hazard waste and fetal remains into that trash dumpster for years. There is no way that such complete disregard for medical standards and disrespect for those women occurred without Hodari and these other abortionists knowing about it!”
In its letters to Miller the OCR states that the clinics have complied with their directives and put into place policies and practices to ensure that future HIPAA violations do not occur.
“I’m glad that the OCR took these complaints seriously, but I have to say, the clinics are getting off with just another slap on the hand,” Miller said.
“Where are the real penalties for the flagrant violations they committed? Where’s the justice for the women whose rights and dignity they violated? The OCR should have made these abortionists pay heavy fines and retribution. These are serious violations of HIPAA law and after two years of waiting, the outcome is rather disappointing. The OCR could have sent a real message to other abortion providers and that opportunity was missed.”
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