Gynecologist License Revoked for Criminal HIPAA Violation But No Jail Time or Penalty

In April 2018, a 65-year old former gynecologist named Rita Luthra from Massachusetts, Longmeadow, was charged with criminal violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule and federal investigation obstruction. In September 19, 2018, the judge announced Luthra’s sentence sparing her from jail time and financial penalty.

The lawsuit against Luthra claimed that she received $23,500 as a payment to recommend Warner Chilcott’s osteoporosis medications. However Luthra denied that and said that the payment was for ‘speaker fees’ and research paper writing, even if the paper was not completed. The jury learned that she absolutely lied to federal agents concerning the cash she received from the pharmaceutical firm, and so she broke the HIPAA privacy rule.

Luthra did not concur with the accusations that she gave a pharmaceutical sales agent patient health data access in order to complete pre-authorization forms for the insurance companies that were not authorizing the prescriptions for two osteoporosis medicines that Warner Chilcott was marketing. She similarly allegedly instructed her assistant not to inform the federal detectives and to support her narrative.

At the arrest of Luthra, she lost her professional license as gynecologist. She was facing charges with potential sentence of six years imprisonment plus one year of monitored release and a penalty of $50,000 to $300,000 for her HIPAA violation and $250,000 for her obstruction of the FBI investigation. However, the U.S. District Judge, Mark G. Mastroianni, opted to be lax and sentenced Luthra to a one-year probation. The prosecutors wanted to push for Luthra’s two and a half years imprisonment term and a $40,000 financial penalty. Nevertheless Judge Mastroianni decided against the prosecutors submission nor the defense’s request for community service.

Luthra’s lawyer, Atty. Stephen Spelman, explained that Dr. Rita Luthra served and treated other women including those from deprived areas in Western Massachusetts even though they can not pay. Because of Dr. Luthra’s commitment to aid the disadvantaged women and girls, Judge Mastroianni turned down the prosecutors’ proposition of imprisonment and fine. Judge Mastroianni expressed in his judgment that Luthra’s revokal of professional license and inability to work as a gynecologist is a significant deterrent

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA