Tennessee hospital civil rights investigation

Tennessee hospital civil rights investigation


Federal Civil Rights Probe Initiated into Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Disclosure of Transgender Patients’ Records

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC), located in Nashville, Tennessee, finds itself embroiled in a federal civil rights investigation following the revelation that it provided the medical records of transgender patients to the state’s attorney general, as confirmed by hospital authorities.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Inquiry Amid Legal Action

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has launched an investigation, a development that transpired mere weeks after two patients initiated legal proceedings against VUMC. These patients filed lawsuits against the medical center for its action of releasing their medical records to Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti during the latter part of the preceding year.

Collaboration with Office of Civil Rights

John Howser, the spokesperson for VUMC, issued a statement on Thursday confirming their cooperation with the Office of Civil Rights. He stated, “We have been contacted by and are working with the Office of Civil Rights. We have no further comment since this is an ongoing investigation.”

Delayed Revelation and Legal Implications

VUMC faced criticism for the significant delay in notifying patients about the sharing of their medical information, which occurred in the previous year. The medical center only took action following the emergence of these requests as evidence in a different court case. This delay sparked outrage, particularly among families residing in Tennessee, known for its conservative political landscape and efforts by GOP lawmakers to curtail LGBTQ rights, including gender-affirming care for transgender youth.

Patient Allegations and Hospital’s Responsibility

The patients who are suing VUMC for disclosing their records contend that the medical center should have taken steps to redact personally identifiable information before releasing the records to authorities. They argue that VUMC was well-aware of the adversarial stance of Tennessee authorities toward the rights of transgender individuals.

Diverse Group Affected

Among the individuals whose private medical information was shared with Attorney General Skrmetti’s office are state employees, their adult offspring or partners, beneficiaries of TennCare (the state’s Medicaid program), and even those who were not patients at VUMC’s transgender care facility.

Legal Representation and Federal Scrutiny

Attorney Tricia Herzfeld, who is representing the affected patients, expressed deep concern over the breadth of personal information disclosed by VUMC. She remarked, “The more we learn about the breadth of the deeply personal information that VUMC disclosed, the more horrified we are. Our clients are encouraged that the federal government is looking into what happened here.”

HHS Response Awaited

At the time of this report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services had not yet provided a comment in response to a request regarding the civil rights investigation.

Conclusion

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s involvement in a federal civil rights investigation due to the disclosure of transgender patients’ medical records has brought to light the complex intersection of patient privacy, medical responsibility, and legal implications. As the investigation unfolds, it will be crucial to ascertain the extent of the disclosed information and evaluate the medical center’s compliance with legal and ethical standards.

Tennessee hospital civil rights investigation

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