Tenet Employee Charged with Theft, HIPAA Violations

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , May 27, 2009

Federal prosecutors in Miami have charged an employee at Tenet Healthcare Corp.'s Palmetto General Hospital in Hialeah and an accomplice with theft of patient records and felony HIPAA violations.

Jacquetta L. Brown, 29, a medical records employee at the 360-bed acute-care hospital, and accomplice Tear Renee Barbary, 25, face multiple felony counts of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, and criminal HIPAA violations. Brown also faces aggravated identity theft.

According to the indictment, Brown took records containing personal information of PGH patients, and she and Barbary used the stolen personal information in a credit card fraud scheme. The stolen patient profile records included patients' names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, addresses, drivers' license numbers, and next of kin contacts, the indictment states.

According to United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Brown used the stolen identifying information to obtain patients' credit card account numbers, and gave patient profile records and credit card account numbers to Barbary, who used the information to make unauthorized credit card purchases. Officials say that when police arrested the duo, Brown was found with 41 patient records and Barbary was found with six patient records.

When contacted by HealthLeaders Media, Palmetto General Hospital released the following statement: "We take protecting patient information extremely seriously at Palmetto General Hospital. While we have policies and procedures in place to prevent this unfortunate situation, the employee in question deliberately circumvented these safeguards. We have taken steps to provide those who may have been affected with the information and tools they need to protect their identity. The person involved has been identified and the proper authorities have been notified. The employee involved is no longer employed by Palmetto General Hospital."

John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.

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