UPMC: Employee improperly looked at co-workers file
Suit filed charging invasion of privacy
WILLIAMSPORT — UMPC Susquehanna admits that one of its employees improperly looked at the protected health information of a co-worker who had missed work following a brutal assault.
The admission is contained in a letter attached to the Lycoming County court complaint of Taylor Fausnaught, who is suing the health system and employee Tasha Klock for invasion of privacy and negligence.
In that letter, UPMC Susquehanna’s privacy officer, David F. Samar, said that on July 2, 2018, the health system discovered that “employee snooping” resulted in Fausnaught’s medical information being improperly accessed on June 11, 2018.
He said an internal investigation determined Klock, using an employee password, looked at the records because she was curious about why Fausnaught, a residential assistant, had been absent from work for an extended period.
Her actions violated UPMC policy and federal privacy laws, and she was disciplined by required to undergo additional training and increased monitoring, the letter states.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Civil Rights were notified, according to court documents.
Fausnaught and Klock both worked at UPMC’s skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Muncy but were on different shifts.
Fausnaught’s medical files were accessed after she resigned in May 2018, when she had a miscarriage. Fausnaught said urinary culture and attestation reports were among the records examined, and ultrasound images of her early pregnancy were viewed three times.
UPMC is fighting a subpoena to produce the records that Klock viewed.
It also has asked Judge Eric R. Linhardt to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming Fausnaught failed to show that she suffered harm, and didn’t provide facts to support her claim that Klock was “dangerous, careless and incompetent.”
One of the health system’s arguments for dismissal is there is no private right of action under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Fausnaught acknowledges that but says she is not suing under that act.
Besides invasion of privacy and negligence, she said her claims also include intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation and tortious intrusion.
The suit was filed Sept. 9 after the judge denied Fausnaught’s motion to seal the complaint even though UPMC did not object.
Fausnaught missed work most of the first four months of 2018 while she was in in-patient therapy out of state, the result of being assaulted at Bloomsburg University on Oct. 28, 2017.
She had briefly returned to work after the attack, but was then granted time off to address post-traumatic stress and other issues related to the assault, the complaint states.
Fausnaught is seeking unspecified damages.