Visitor Question

Mental health clinician disclosed bedbug infestation…

Submitted By: Marie (Rhode island)

I get in-home services for my autistic grand daughter from a mental health clinician who provides services at my daughter’s home. My grand daughter lives with me and I am her guardian. However, the tutor and clinicians provide services at my daughter’s home who lives across the street from me.

Because I am the guardian in the adoption process, they wanted to start having services in my home instead. However, I have a bedbug infestation and confided this information to the clinician.

Is it a violation of the HIPAA laws if she disclosed this information to another agency that oversees the funding? Is there anything I can do about this? Thank you.

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.

Answer

Dear Marie,

The HIPAA Rules apply to covered entities and business associates only. The law covers the electronic disclosure of protected mental health information. In most cases, clinical technicians are subject to HIPAA. Under the facts you present, it is likely a disclosure of the existence of bedbugs would not qualify as protected medical information.

You certainly have the right to tell the clinical technician you do not want her to further disclose information about you. Unfortunatly, the technician is not bound by your prohibition as long as the technician does not electronically disclose private health information about you.

If though, the technician discloses false information about you, and that disclosure is patently untrue, you may have the basis of a defamation case. Defamation comes in two basic forms, slander and libel. Slander is false spoken statements. Libel is false written statements (including emails, texts, letters, etc.).

For you to have the basis of a defamation case, you would have to prove the statements were untrue AND they caused you to suffer an economic loss.

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: November 9, 2014

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