The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on lawsuit filed in Wisconsin over Aurora Health Care’s use of patients’ medical data in bankruptcy cases.
Susan Dandridge knew that when she sought protection in bankruptcy court last year, information about her debts and income would go into a public court file. […]
But what she couldn’t deal with was learning that some of those bills, from Aurora Health Care Inc., included specific details about the kind of treatment she got there and why.
“I never thought in a million years” that Chapter 13 would “take my personal life and make it an open book,” she said recently. Now she’s one of several Aurora patients in bankruptcy who have filed class-action lawsuits against Aurora over the way it submits claims in bankruptcy.
The suits, in federal and state court, claim Aurora violated Wisconsin’s privacy law when it routinely filed proofs of claim against debtors that include patients’ specific medical information as part of the billing records. The suits seek $25,000 in exemplary damages for each person whose private medical information was revealed.
The suits also seek to have such information taken out of thousands of other debtors’ existing files. […]
The complaints suggest that Aurora could have filed limited, summary information to protect its creditors’ claims in bankruptcy court. Such an approach would meet the restrictions of state and federal medical privacy laws, according to the suits. […]
The Wisconsin Hospital Association filed notice that it objected to [the plaintiffs’] interpretation of the state privacy law, noting that there has been a “bright line exception” that allows disclosure of patient records when needed for billing, or payment or collection of claims.