Back in August, Mayo Clinic announced that one of their former employees inappropriately accessed the medical records of 1,600 patients. This insider breach led several affected patients to file class action lawsuits against Mayo. The details of the breach and healthcare class action lawsuits are discussed below.

Mayo Clinic Insider Breach

On August 5, Mayo Clinic discovered that a former employee accessed patient files without authorization. The employee in question accessed 1,614 patient files, 1,131 of which were from Minnesota patients. Protected health information (PHI) accessed by the employee included patient names, demographic information, dates of birth, medical record numbers, clinical notes, and medical images.

Upon investigation into the incident, Mayo found that no financial information or Social Security numbers were accessed by the employee. They also determined that it is unlikely that the employee copied or retained any of the patient data.

Healthcare Class Action Lawsuits

In a statement Mayo Clinic said, “Mayo Clinic is strongly committed to protecting the privacy of our patients, and we sincerely regret that this incident occurred. Mayo takes this matter very seriously and as a result of this investigation is reviewing its policies and procedures. Mayo will provide appropriate training and education regarding any changes to our staff.”

Why Are the Patients Filing Healthcare Class Action Lawsuits?

There are two separate healthcare class action lawsuits being filed against Mayo Clinic as a result of the insider breach. The healthcare class action lawsuits cite violation of the Minnesota Health Records Act, invasion of privacy, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. This is due to the nature of the medical images accessed by the former employee.

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The first of healthcare class action lawsuits, filed in Olmsted County District Court, list plaintiff Olga Ryabchuk. Ryabchuk was informed that in addition to her name, demographic information, birth date, medical record number, and clinical notes being accessed, the former employee also accessed medical images. According to Ryabchuk’s lawyer, Marshall Tanick, “This is particularly troublesome because it’s pretty intimate photographs of people.”

The second of the healthcare class action lawsuits, also filed in Olmsted County District Court, lists two plaintiffs Amanda Bloxton-Kippola and Chelsea Turner. These plaintiffs also had nude photos of them, taken for cancer treatment purposes, contained in the files accessed by the former employee.

The complaint issued by Ryabchuk read, “Ryabchuk was extremely distraught to learn of this unlawful access of her health records. She was told that Mayo Clinic did a full investigation and interviewed the former employee and came to the decision that he was in [Ryabchuk’s] medical chart with no business reason.”