(ATCHISON, Kan.) A northeast Kansas hospital is facing a lawsuit after a former employee is accused of leaking the personal information of a woman who was raped to her alleged rapist.
According to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court of Kansas, the victim suffered a violent sexual assault on May 26 2017.
She went to Atchison Hospital for an evaluation and rape kit exam and told hospital staff not to tell anyone about who attacked her. But the lawsuit accuses a former X-ray technician of accessing the woman's medical records, then contacting her attacker to tell him he had been accused of sexual assault.
The woman said she was then relentlessly harassed by the assailant through text messages, social media and phone calls, and stalked. She also claimed she was harassed by the X-ray tech as well, and was sexually assaulted again by the same man in November.
Days before the alleged second attack the lawsuit claims hospital CEO John Jacobson sent a letter to the woman expressing deep regret and apologizing for the hospital's privacy breach.
In a letter to the victim Jacobson wrote during an initial investigation it appeared "this employee did access some of your health information and apparently did disclose it to another individual without your permission."
Since the lawsuit the hospital has issued a statement saying they are "deeply disturbed by the actions of this former employee" and that "patient confidentiality at Atchison Hospital and our ability to protect personal information is a top priority of ours."
The X-ray tech was fired from Atchison Hospital nearly four months after the first alleged assault. But the lawsuit also accuses Atchison Hospital of giving the technician a positive reference to get a job at St. Luke's Cushing Hospital in Leavenworth.
In a statement St. Luke's said it was unaware of any allegations regarding the technician until the story came to light and the X-ray tech is now on administrative leave until an internal review is complete.
ATCHISON HOSPITAL STATEMENT
In response to your inquiry regarding the lawsuit filed by a former Atchison Hospital patient, we want you to know that patient confidentiality at Atchison Hospital and our ability to protect personal information is a top priority of ours. While we are limited with what we can share related to this situation, we are deeply disturbed by the actions of this former employee. In fact, when we were made aware of this situation, we took immediate steps to investigate and within two days, we terminated this individual's employment.
In addition, we reviewed this specific situation to understand what could be done differently in the future and as a result, immediately implemented changes to our internal controls, including even stricter accessibility requirements to our Health Information Management (HMI) department. We are committed to doing everything possible to provide a safe and caring environment for our patients, and paramount to that is confidentiality and privacy around personal medical information.
SAINT LUKE'S STATEMENT
Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital was unaware of any allegations regarding this employee until the Kansas City Star's article on Thursday afternoon. In light of the new information, hospital administrators are now conducting a thorough internal review to learn more and determine the most appropriate course of action. The employee in question has been placed on administrative leave until the review is complete.
Saint Luke's places the utmost importance on patient care and patient privacy. All new employees undergo thorough HIPPA training and the hospital has extensive safeguards and processes in place to ensure patient privacy is protected.