A proposed class action alleges Quest Diagnostics has both deliberately refused to address “ongoing systemic computer notification errors” in its computerized lab test notification program and relayed “false statements” to criminal authorities in response to patient inquiries.
The plaintiff, who the complaint describes as a senior-citizen stroke survivor and Medicare beneficiary, claims he’s among a number of proposed class members who, after receiving a “misdirected” lab test order from Quest, were forced to pay for lab tests that “may not have been ordered by one or more of his treating prescribers.”
“Plaintiff made extensive efforts to ascertain whether any of his numerous treating prescribers in fact ordered the specified lab tests for him, but no prescriber has thereby been identified,” the suit says.
Despite openly acknowledging errors in its lab test notification system in a recorded October 29, 2019 phone call, Quest has refused to comply with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act—HIPAA—when patients request access to certain protected information in order to ascertain the validity of lab test notifications, the case alleges.
The plaintiff charges he’s among those who Quest has “routinely rebuffed” while seeking to address what the lawsuit describes as “a computer virus and/or malfunction” that may have erroneously directed patients to appear for “time-consuming, expensive, and invasive lab tests” that have not, in truth, been ordered for the person by any of their licensed healthcare providers.
“Plaintiff, for one, had made repeated inquiries to Quest since October 2019 regarding the apparent computer virus and waited three months with no response as to whether a tuberculosis test and glucose tolerance testing had been ordered by one (or more) of Plaintiff’s licensed medical providers after Plaintiff received electronic mail notifications from Quest for those tests,” the complaint, filed initially in New Jersey Superior Court, elaborates.
Though the plaintiff requested the identity of the prescribers who supposedly ordered the tuberculosis and glucose tolerance lab tests—information that, according to HIPAA, should have been provided within 30 days of his request—the defendant “blatant[ly]” refused for months to so much as access the man’s health information to ascertain whether the tests had, in fact, been ordered for him, according to the lawsuit.
As a result, the plaintiff had to shoulder the time, expense and effort of taking legal action in order to continue his mission to obtain his own information, the suit relays.
According to the lawsuit, Quest Diagnostics, rather than simply provide the plaintiff with the information requested, responded via outside counsel in January 2020 with a “surreptitious” memo to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice in an “ongoing effort to shirk its plain obligations” under HIPAA’s privacy rule.
“Incredibly, rather than simply provide the information, Quest made false statements to the Division of Criminal Justice in Quest's effort to manufacture a criminal case against Plaintiff,” the lawsuit contends, claiming Quest’s memo to the New Jersey Attorney General’s office indicated the plaintiff was somehow linked to criminal activity given his letter demanding his protected health information was ostensibly sent only hours after the October 2019 audiotaped conversation referenced above.
“The Division of Criminal Justice—after reading the memo—immediately wrote on January 30, 2020 (just two days after the date of Quest’s memorandum) that no criminal activity was indicated,” the suit reads, noting the plaintiff did not come to learn of Quest’s reported communications with authorities until several months later.
Nevertheless, Quest Diagnostics unwaveringly refused to discuss with the plaintiff his own HIPAA-protected health information, the lawsuit says, alleging the company “threatened to personally sanction the seventy-year-old stroke survivor” if he carried on in search of who ordered the lab tests.
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