Visitor Question

Nurse revealed information on my closed adoption…

Submitted By: A (USA)

I was given up for adoption when I was born. My birth mother decided that she wanted to find me and hired a private investigator. My birth mother called the hospital to get some information from them: birth certificate number, date I was born, etc., so she could give it to the PI to more easily find me.

The first nurse she talked to said absolutely not, it was against the law and she couldn’t get it because it wasn’t me. My birth mother waited a few hours and called again. A different nurse picked up and she approached it a different way, saying she just couldn’t remember and couldn’t find her original documents.

The nurse gave her everything. Because of that, she found me, before I was ready, and has now been trying to be apart of my life and I don’t want that yet.

Isn’t that a violation of my privacy? The adoption was closed and the records were mine, the only things they could tell her were the dates she was there, and when she gave birth, right? Can I do anything about this, file a suit or complaint or something? Thanks.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.


Dear A,

From the facts you present, the hospital is a “covered entity” under HIPAA. (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). As a covered entity, the hospital is subject to fines and penalties for violation of HIPAA rules and regulations. This includes much of the information related to your adoption.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act is meant to protect your name, birth date, dates and types of medical treatment, medical records numbers, contact information, photographs, Social Security number, and even your voice and fingerprints. It seems clear the hospital, by its nurse, violated HIPAA rules.

Unfortunately, you can not sue the hospital for violations of HIPAA. All you can do is file a complaint. You may though, sue the hospital directly for their actions, if those actions directly caused you to suffer some form of damages.

To have the basis of a viable claim for damages, you will need to prove their actions in releasing the information caused you some type of financial harm. Under the circumstances, there doesn’t appear to be any financial losses.

The angst you experienced, and may continue to experience, may be the basis for some type of compensation, but to be compensated will likely require some form of medical evidence of how the negligent actions of the nurse caused you mental distress. To secure that information, you’ll need to find a psychiatrist or psychologist to complete a narrative supporting your position.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: September 10, 2014

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