Patient Care Coordinator Sentenced to 1 Year Imprisonment for HIPAA Violation

A patient care coordinator previously employed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) received a one-year imprisonment term for accessing patient healthcare records and utilizing that data for malicious damages.

Sue Kalina, 62, living in Butler, PA, was an employee at UPMC Tri Rivers Musculoskeletal and Allegheny Health Network working as a patient care coordinator. From March 30, 2016 to June 15, 2017, Kalina accessed the medical records of patients without authorization. The records she accessed belonged to old classmates, friends, and those she had a problem with. Then, she used the medical records information in a plan of revenge against Frank J. Zottola Construction, her previous employer .

Kalina was an office manager at this company for 24 years before she was terminated. A younger lady took her position. In June 2017, Kalina accessed that lady’s healthcare records and exposed her gynecological information to the Zottola controller. Kalina also created a voicemail message disclosing the healthcare information of the new office manager and another Zottola personnel.

Zottola notified UPMC, then UPMC terminated Kalina. Later, Allegheny Health Network hired Kalina. Allegedly, Kalina continued accessing patient records with no authorization. Altogether, Kalina accessed 111 patient records without authorization.

Kalina claimed responsibility for what she did but said she’s going through rough times and she had health problems. She likewise said she did not know she was violating the law and assumed she could look at patient files. Kalina’s team of lawyers were trying to get probation because of Kalina’s present family obligations.

Prosecutors contended that UPMC provided Kalina with HIPAA training, so she should have been aware of her HIPAA violation. Her claim for ignorance of violating the law was absurd. The U.S. attorney’s office requested a imprisonment term of 6 to 12 months.

During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab chose a one year jail term as the offense was specifically ‘egregious.’ Kalina received 12 months imprisonment and 3 years of probation. During her time in jail, Kalina cannot contact any of the 111 victims.

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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