CLEVELAND — A Painesville woman said she got charged for a child’s care, but there’s one big problem with that. The child isn’t hers.
“I think it’s sad that it’s come to this, but I was at my wits end,” said Sue Kidd, 61. She didn’t want to be speaking out, but felt she just had to. “I decided to call Channel 5 and speak with you. I’ve dealt with this for well over a year now. I’m not getting anywhere.”
The problem started when she got a bill from University Hospitals.
“I kept saying to them this is not my child. And they just seemed to think that I was lying to them,” said Kidd.
She was shocked by the UH mistake.
“And I was thinking wow! I have just gotten a lot of information on someone else’s child that I don’t think I should have,” she told us.
The bill showed the child received care from the UH Psychiatry Department.
“I was a little taken aback because of all the HIPPA policies,” said Kidd.
Despite initially getting a letter from UH apologizing for the “inconvenience” to Kidd, the charges kept coming.
“There was an additional visit as well?” we asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
Five On Your Side Investigators checked with U.S. Health and Human Services, which notes there have been more than a quarter-of-a-million privacy rule complaints against various health care providers nationwide in the past 17 years, which equates to nearly 2 per hour. Plus, nearly 70% of the complaints investigated found there was a need to fix the privacy problem.
“It’s very concerning particularly if there are mental health issues involved,” said HIPPA law expert and Attorney Dave Kulwicki. He said he gets at least a call per week about private medical information being compromised in our area. “The hospitals are responsible for being the custodians of the record,” said Kulwicki.
He told us if this happens to your information, you have the right to an audit trail. “That shows who accessed your record, when they accessed it, and what portions of the record they reviewed,” said Kulwicki.
UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS RESPONDS
We contacted UH about Kidd’s claims. In a statement, it said —in part —T that the issue has been “fully resolved.” Kidd told us no one has contacted her saying that.
UH also said in the statement that it takes “privacy…very seriously,” that it is “very sorry this happened,” and it thanked News 5 for bringing this to its attention.
“I really hope that they take a little more time when they’re sending out information,” said Kidd. “I mean I would hate for anything that’s going on with me to go to somebody else.”
As of publishing time, Kidd told us she can’t get the collections process taken care of because the collection agency asks for the patient’s birthdate. She doesn’t have that because she said she doesn’t know the child.
Here’s the entire UH statement:
“We have apologized to Ms. Kidd for the inconvenience and billing matter. Her concern has been fully resolved and all associated activity has been performed. We are reviewing our processes in this case and updating accordingly.
Regarding the misdirected invoice, UH treats the privacy and security of our patients’ information very seriously and we take many measures to protect it. As in any industry, there are times when issues occur. We investigate, take necessary steps to mitigate risks, and notify the affected individual, and any other required party.
We are very sorry this happened and that it was not completely resolved when we were first notified of it. We continually work to train and educate employees on compliance with our privacy protocols.
Thank you for bringing it to our attention.”