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Lawsuit: Ohio woman's STD diagnosis posted on Facebook

Hospitals and their staff owe patients a duty to keep their medical records confidential. According to a recent lawsuit, the University of Cincinnati Medical Center is liable for breaching this duty. The female plaintiff is seeking more than $25,000 in damages.

The lawsuit centers around a Facebook post that the plaintiff's former boyfriend published publicly. The post contained information from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center that revealed her diagnosis of syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff's ex-boyfriend is romantically involved with a U of C hospital employee who gave him the confidential file.

This breach of confidentiality has obviously caused the plaintiff a great deal of embarrassment and stress. Her alleged injuries include emotional distress, harassment and a loss of friends because of the hospital's negligence.

The hospital will have a tough time defending the lawsuit. The doctrine of respondeat superior generally holds an employer liable for the actions of an employee within the scope of employment. The hospital will likely argue that the staff member who accessed and shared the medical file was acting beyond the scope of her employment, but it may be difficult for U of C to win the argument if the employee was permitted to access patient files.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "Cincinnati Woman Sues After STD Diagnosis Posted On Facebook," Amanda Lee Myers, June 6, 2014

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