The Virginian-Pilot reports on an unusual prosecution — a doctor faces federal charges concerning medical privacy under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act):
In a rare prosecution of a possible health privacy violation, a federal grand jury has indicted a Suffolk psychiatrist on charges he disclosed personal medical information.
Dr. Richard Kaye, 62, a former medical director of the psychiatric unit at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk, was indicted in U.S. District Court in Norfolk on Tuesday and is scheduled to be arraigned July 13.
According to the indictment, he treated a patient with a mental health problem at Obici for two weeks in 2007. In February 2008, the indictment said, he released personal health information about her on three different occasions to an “agent” of the patient’s employer without authorization. […]
If convicted, Kaye faces a maximum of five years in prison. […]
The alleged violation involved the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA, which went into effect in 2003. In 2010, there were about 9,000 violations reported across the country, and about 30 percent of those resulted in some type of corrective action, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The vast majority, however, were in the form of changes in medical practices or monetary fines. Criminal prosecution has been rare and usually involves situations where “false pretenses” are used.
Kaye is a doctor of osteopathy and is board certified in psychiatry, according to Virginia Board of Medicine documents. The Board of Medicine investigated the same incident and issued a reprimand to Kaye in May 2010. He was fined $5,000 and put on probation until he completed eight hours of medical education on the subject of professional ethics.
He complied with the order, and his license was restored in October 2010.