The state Supreme Court established Thursday that patients have the right to sue doctors and other health care providers for the unauthorized and negligent disclosure of their confidential medical records. Courts have held previously that private suits were blocked by HIPAA. (Handout / TNS)
The majority decision creates new state law and adds Connecticut to a growing number of states that allow patients to sue for damages over the release of private records by their physicians. Courts in Connecticut have held previously — as have courts elsewhere — that private suits were blocked by federal law under the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act or HIPAA law.
HIPAA laws establish procedures to protect medical records and empower government to impose civil and criminal penalties for violation. But HIPAA does not permit private suits to collect damages for unauthorized disclosures.
“Finally we have a remedy in Connecticut that recognizes that there is a duty of confidentiality, the breach of which can lead to compensation for damages,” said attorney Bruce L. Elstein of Trumbull, whose client, Emily Byrne, sued over an unauthorized release of her medical history.