A dental care practice in Dallas has paid up a sum of $10,000 to the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services due to mistakes that were made which led to the practice being in breach of the laws and legislations governing them.
The fine itself was paid out in relation to the misconduct that the practice showed when responding to a review left on social media. The reviewer in question was named and had details of their health condition shared publicly, thereby breaking the rules surrounding confidentiality. It is this breach of patient confidentiality that has resulted in the dental practice, Elite Dental Associates, being made to pay such a hefty fee in compensation—to which they have agreed.
The complaint about the practice’s misconduct was filed on June 5, 2016, and subsequent investigations discovered that the Elite Dental Associates practice had also disclosed protected health information for a number of other clients as well, in relation to their patient reviews.
The fee paid by the dental practice was determined partly based on the size and financial circumstances of the practice, and the practice’s cooperation with the OCR investigation further reduced the amount of money that they were required to pay. The practice has also been required to partake in a corrective action plan, which will help to ensure that future breaking of the HIPAA rules is not seen.
The director of OCR made his thoughts known surrounding this event, explaining that “Social media is not the place for providers to discuss a patient’s care. Doctors and dentists must think carefully about patient privacy before responding to online reviews.”