Jay Stoneking Archives
In September, I wrote about two privacy cases that were scheduled to be heard by the West Virginia Supreme Court. In the first one a health care provider was arguing that it should not be required to pay damages for illegally accessing and disseminating the plaintiff's private medical records. In the second one, West Virginia's largest insurer, State Farm, was arguing that insurers should be free to share private medical data with national databases--and, even more disturbingly, that trial courts in West Virginia lacked any power to stop them. I am pleased to announce that in both cases the West Virginia Supreme Court ruled in a way that protected privacy rights.
It goes without saying that medical records are private in nature and are entitled to legal protection. In fact, it's hard to imagine anything more sensitive and personal than the things we tell our healthcare professionals. We provide them with intimate details of our lives--and, of course, we do so with the expectation that everything we say will be held in strict confidence.
Imagine you're the mother of a five-year-old baby with a high fever. You go to your HMO pediatrician who prescribes Tylenol. But your baby's temperature keeps rising. Soon your baby is limp and moaning and his temperature is spiking at 104 degrees.
Nagging questions still remain over how Medicaid can enforce its lien for medical expenses in situations where a settlement is reached with a third-party tortfeasor. In a very recent and surprising case, the West Virginia Supreme Court answered some of these questions--and, in the process, struck down a statute that would have given Medicaid a priority lien. In Re: E.B., a minor, No. 101537 (W.Va. 6/21/12)
Lawyers are often the butt of jokes. Popular television seems to reinforce the idea that lawyers are hard-nosed, tight-fisted, and will do practically anything to win. Lawyers also fare poorly in public opinion polls, lagging behind other professions in critical areas like honesty and ethics.
"Profits over people..."