Sacramento (PRWEB) January 19, 2006
The appointment of Winston Wilkinson to head the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is troubling to nurse Barbara Clark, a plaintiff in a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit (see Clark vs. Rea, Case No.: NO. 2:05-CV-2410-FCD-KLM in Sacramento federal court).
“He is the new patient privacy czar, whoever holds this position will supervise the investigation, or suppression, of thousands of complaints of medical record breaches,” Clark said. “Mr. Wilkinson has a decidedly ‘limited government’ stand, not exactly the person you want leading a federal government investigative agency,” she cited.
According to Clark, almost 1,800 complaints, including one filed by her, are in the DHHS OCR pipeline awaiting investigation and resolution for alleged medical record confidentiality breaches. She says that big money hospital chains want to suppress these complaints, which she calls ridiculous in this “present era of identity theft”, to quote her.
“Also, Mr. Wilkinson’s very vocal membership in the Mormon church worries me that religious bias might be introduced into the management of my complaint against the Adventist hospital chain,” Clark reported. “That’s like having an all Catholic jury hear an abortion rights case,” she said.
Clark reports that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) provides criminal penalties for medical record breaches as stated in 42 USC 1320d. She recently appeared on a San Francisco television show with Eric Drew, the only American to get a successful HIPAA prosecution and conviction.