As outlined in April 2’s Boston Globe, a Massachusetts physician who lost his license to practice is still causing problems for his patients. He left his office and records, and now his patient records are about to be destroyed unless the patients come to claim them. The state authorities claim they don’t have the resources to maintain the records, or to help find the patients. The auction company just wants them gone.
Normally, when a physician closes a practice, patient records are placed with another physician; if they are placed in storage, prepayment of storage fees or a bond is usually required. Wouldn’t it be interesting if there were some criminal charges under HIPAA in cases like this — after all, HIPAA has fines of up to $250,000 and penalties up to 10 years in prison for disclosing or obtaining health information with the intent to transfer it for commercial advantage, personal gain or malicious harm?