A dental practice in Texas has been ordered to pay $10,000 for violating the privacy of patients by disclosing their last names and health conditions on the review website Yelp.
Elite Dental Associates of Dallas agreed to pay $10,000 to settle alleged violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), according to a press release issued by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Elite also agreed to adopt a corrective plan.
An OCR investigation determined that Elite disclosed the protected health information (PHI) of multiple patients in response to reviews on Yelp without their permission. The office accepted a reduced settlement amount due to the dental practice’s size, finances, and cooperation.
The OCR disclosed that it received a complaint in June 2016 from a patient who said that Elite violated her privacy after she posted a review of the dental practice on Yelp. She said the practice disclosed details that included her last name, details of her treatment plan, insurance, and cost information. When it investigated the incident, the OCR discovered that had also "impermissibly disclosed PHI of other patients" in response to their reviews without their permission.