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What would you do if your medical health records became part of records that were accessible to the public? Well it turns out some people had that happen to them when they filed for bankruptcy. The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports that Aurora Health Care Inc. allegedly included specific details of medical treatments in their bills which were included in court bankruptcy records. This caused two class action lawsuits to be filed against Aurora. The lawsuits claim that disclosure of their patients' medical records in court bankruptcy records violates Wisconsin privacy law. The lawsuits are seeking $25,000 in damages.
Aurora Medical Inc. claims that its disclosure was part of the bankruptcy process. Its spokesperson told the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel that it was protecting its rights: "Aurora is protecting its rights in bankruptcy as a creditor has the right to do. The information disclosed as part of our filings in this case are legal and proper."
However, the plaintiffs feel that the information that was disclosed caused emotional embarassment and opened them up to "medical identity theft." Their attorney Michael Watton would not give details about what specific medical information was made public, but he did say that they would be considered "universally embarassing." While this may be true, the Wisconsin Hospital Association filed a notice with the court that objected to Mr. Watton's interpretation of the Wisconsin privacy law because it fails to include a bright line exception that allows for disclosure of medical records when it came to billing, payment and collection on claims.
While this is class action lawsuit that is state specific, it is important for people who are filing for bankruptcy to be aware of the things that become public records. If you file for bankruptcy, just remember that your medical bills could be placed in your own court bankruptcy records.