HIPAA Violation Resulted to 1-Year Imprisonment of a Patient Care Coordinator

A patient care coordinator who worked at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in the past was sentenced to a one-year jail term for accessing the health records of patients and carrying out malicious damages using the data.

Sue Kalina, 62, a resident in Butler, PA, worked at UPMC Tri Rivers Musculoskeletal and Allegheny Health Network with a position as patient care coordinator. In March 30, 2016 until June 15, 2017, she accessed patient records without work authorization. She accessed the records of her old schoolmates, friends, and some adversaries. Kalina planned to use the medical data against her past employer, Frank J. Zottola Construction.

Kalina was Frank J. Zottola Construction’s office manager for 24 years, then she was laid off. A young lady replaced her position in the company. In June 2017, Kalina accessed the medical records of this lady, took her gynecological data and shared it with the Zottola controller. Kalina additionally produced a voicemail message exposing the new office manager’s healthcare data and another Zottola personnel’s data.

Zottola informed UPMC, which in turn fired Kalina. Afterwards, Kalina was hired at Allegheny Health Network. Allegedly, Kalina did not stop her unauthorized accessing of patient records. All in all, Kalina was able to access 111 patient records.

Kalina admitted she was accountable for what she did. However, she reasoned that she’s experiencing rough times and was dealing with health problems. She said she was not aware that she was violating any law and thought it’s all right for her to look at patient records. Kalina’s team of attorneys were attempting to seek probation considering Kalina’s current family responsibilities.

Prosecutors assumed that UPMC provided Kalina with HIPAA training, thus she ought to be aware that she violated the HIPAA law. Her assertion of ignorance of having violated the law was ridiculous. The U.S. attorney’s firm asked for 6 to 12 months jail term.

At the time of sentencing, U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab decided on a one year jail term seeing that the offense was particularly ‘egregious.’ Kalina was given 12 months imprisonment plus 3 years probation. While in jail, Kalina is not allowed to communicate with any of her 111 victims.