The ex-husband of a former UW Health billing specialist, 15 of his family members, one friend and the estates of two deceased family members, are suing UW Health and the man’s ex-wife, alleging that she invaded their privacy by accessing thousands of their medical records over a period of more than 10 years.
The lawsuit, filed Friday in Dane County Circuit Court, doesn’t offer a reason that former billing specialist Kila Lucey, of Mazomanie, would have improperly accessed records belonging to her ex-husband and others, which included such things as visit summaries, prescription records, laboratory results and medical reports.
It states that Lucey accessed 2,629 individual records of the 19 people without their knowledge or permission.
According to court records, the couple divorced in January 2004. The lawsuit states that Lucey accessed G.W. Buckeridge’s medical records 687 times between May 2004 and July 2012.
It states that he and his family and friends were unaware until November 2016 that Lucey had accessed their records, when UW Health sent letters informing them of Lucey’s unauthorized access.
Madison lawyer David Lenz, representing the 19 plaintiffs, declined to answer questions about the lawsuit Monday. Lucey also declined to comment Monday.
UW Health spokeswoman Lisa Brunette would say only that Lucey’s employment ended on June 27, 2016. “Beyond that we do not publicly disclose the details of personnel matters,” she said.
The lawsuit states that Lucey was terminated.
Brunette said that all UW Health employees are trained in policies related to the privacy and security of patient information.
Only employees who have a work-related reason to access patient information are granted access to UW Health’s electronic medical record system, she said, and even then it is limited to information that is “within the scope of the employee’s professional responsibilities.”
UW Health conducts regular audits, Brunette said, “to ensure that employee access is in accordance with these policies. Any violations discovered during these audits are handled in accordance with applicable state and federal privacy laws, and UW Health policies.”
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including damages for emotional distress. It alleges that Lucey violated the privacy rights of the 19 plaintiffs, and that UW Health, as Lucey’s employer, failed to properly supervise her and monitor her access to health care records, failed to keep systems in place to indicate unauthorized access and allowed the disclosure of medical records to Lucey outside the scope of her job duties.
In addition to accessing Buckeridge’s medical records hundreds of times, the lawsuit states, Lucey also accessed the records of one of his relatives 948 times between April 2004 and March 2015.
Records of two other family members were each accessed about 170 times, while records of the others were accessed on between 10 and 147 occasions, the lawsuit states.
Lucey disclosed Buckeridge’s medical information to a third party, the lawsuit states, but it does not say who that was.