Psychology Practice Revealed Patients’ Mental Disorders in Debt Lawsuits

https://www.propublica.org/article/new-jersey-psychology-practice-patients-mental-disorders-lawsuits-debts

The greatest fear of many patients receiving therapy services is that somehow the details of their private struggles will be revealed publicly…

Short Hills Associates in Clinical Psychology, the group based in New Jersey that treated Philip, has filed dozens of collections lawsuits against patients and included in them their names, diagnoses and listings of their treatments.

In cases in which the patients were minors, the practice sued their parents and included the children’s names and diagnoses.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal patient privacy law known as HIPAA, allows health providers to sue patients over unpaid debts, but requires that they disclose only the minimum information necessary to pursue them.

Still, the law has many loopholes, which ProPublica has been exploring in a series of articles this year. One is that HIPAA covers only providers who submit data electronically — and apparently Short Hills Associates does not…

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