What happens if a medical facility releases your medical records to the general public? What happens if an insurance company releases medical records to the general public?
Well, according to Section 146.84 Wisconsin Statutes that facility or person may be liable for tens of thousands of dollars in addition to actual damages and ACTUAL attorneys fees. Believe me, that can be a lot of money.
I found an article from a few years ago written by a couple Michael, Best and Friedrich attorneys concerning this issue. I hope it will continue to be available. Finerty and Barlament state:
This statute may apply to entities other than health care entities. The statute’s penalty provisions for example, Wis. Stat. § 146.84, apply to “[a]ny person, including the state or any political subdivision of the state” who violates Wis. Stat. § 146.82 or 146.83. Wis. Stat. § 146.84(1)(b), (bm). Similarly, penalties (including a fine of up to $25,000 and up to 9 months in prison) can be applied to “[w]hoever” obtains certain confidential information under false pretenses or with knowledge that the disclosure is unlawful and not reasonably necessary to protect another from harm. Wis. Stat. § 146.84(2)(a).
I was thinking about this after a client asked me what protection she/he has when medical records are released to an at-fault insurance provider. In all honesty the liability of the company who discloses to the public certain records depends on the authorization that was signed and the particular facts of the release of those records. But, if a company or hospital releases records improperly at least this statute exists as a pretty significant penalty.