Victims of Fulton County medical record breach unlikely to be co - CBS46 News

Victims of Fulton County medical record breach unlikely to be compensated

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)

Fulton County officials are confirming the employee at the center of a data breach investigation worked at the South Fulton Mental Health Center for a number of years and had access to all the documents in question.

(MORE: Fulton County clinic dumps sensitive medical records in plain sight)

"There's at least one disgruntled employee who's responsible for this," said Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves.

Officials won't identify the employee, but suggested the person was upset about the county's plan to outsource mental health services.

"Whenever there's a potential breach where an employee steps outside the lines, it's disappointing, but I will assure the public that we're investigating," said Eaves.

The chairman was unfamiliar with details like why investigators seem convinced the employee's failure to properly the destroy the records was done deliberately and not by mistake. He promised a comprehensive report will reveal those answers in the future.

(MORE: Fulton County: We know who mishandled patient medical records)

Ever since CBS46 found the medical records and social security numbers of patients in an open dumpster, people have been calling our newsroom asking how this will be handled.

Attorney John Hutchins of LeClairRyan Law Firm deals with HIPAA violations all the time. According to Hutchins, federal regulators take breaches like these very seriously.

"There are significant fines that they levy so there's a lot on the line," said Hutchins.

But for the actual patient, making a claim for restitution means proving their information not only got leaked, it also caused them to lose something. Even if someone's identity is stolen, how does one prove the information came from one specific dumpster, and not from a million other potential places?

And more bad news for people who are just worried that someone will know they sought mental health treatment.

"You're not going to get a financial remedy for suffering the embarrassment of someone finding out you went to this particular facility," said Hutchins.

So when it comes to data breaches, the system is set up to collect big money in government fines, but little or no money for the actual victims.

If former patients of the South Fulton Mental Health Center are wondering whether their records are part of the pile found in the dumpster, Hutchins said Fulton County is required to seek out and notify the affected patients when they make their report to federal regulators.

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