CHICAGO (CBS) — A woman at the center of a lawsuit said Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group did not inform her of a privacy breach of her medical records until she called after seeing the records posted on social media.
Gina Graziano called it a breach of trust, and said Northwestern should have better policies in place.
“I was humiliated,” she said. “Embarrassed.”
Graziano filed a lawsuit against Northwestern Medicine Regional Medical Group, her ex-boyfriend David Wirth and his girlfriend, Jessica Wagner.
“I did not know her,” Graziano said of Wagner. She said she also did not know Wirth and Wagner were dating.
The suit alleges Wagner, a hospital employee, used her credentials to log in and access Graziano’s medical records, charts and files. Then, Wirth posted about procedures and treatments Graziano received at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital on social media.
“That point I know, that curiosity intrigued them enough to know more about me, and my name was searched in a database on two separate dates — March 5 and March 6,” Graziano said.
In a letter from Northwestern Medicine to Graziano, the hospital acknowledges after “a thorough investigation” there was “inappropriate access” to her medical record by an employee on March 5 and 6 of last year. The lawsuit said Wagner looked at the records for about 37 minutes and provided them to Wirth.
On March 5 the lawsuit says Wirth put Graziano’s private information on Twitter. A police report said Wagner was fired from Northwestern Medicine because of the incident.
In a video of Wagner being questioned by Bloomingdale Police, she told the officer someone must have used her computer to access the records after she logged in.
“Can you think of any scenario under which somebody else would search for your boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend’s medical history on your computer?” the officer can be heard asking.
“No, and that’s where I am coming to the point that I search a thousand charts a day,” Wagner said in the video.
“It’s a complete invasion of my client’s privacy,” said attorney Ted Diamantopoulos. “When a patient goes to a hospital, they expect to have their medical records private.”
“They were treating me for something I didn’t want anybody to know about,” Graziano said. “Northwestern needs better policies in place for their staff to understand what HIPAA really means.”
A lawyer for Wagner and Wirth did not respond to requests comment.
Neither has been charged with any crime in this case.
Wirth did receive six months’ probation and paid a fine for harassing Graziano in a separate case.
Northwestern issued the the following statement regarding the lawsuit: