GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A Grand Rapids-area woman says Spectrum Health released her STD test results to another woman over the phone, who then put the information on Twitter and Instagram.
Paradise Bond says someone she knows called Spectrum Health in January and was able to get information from her medical records about a test for sexually transmitted diseases. The woman only needed to provide Bond's name and date of birth.
Bond says the woman then plastered the information on the Internet.
"The whole Grand Rapids was running around saying that I had a STD," Bond said. "I was stressed out. If I was a weaker person I probably would have committed suicide or something."
Spectrum Health representatives say the incident has prompted changes in the way it does business, but they also insisted the hospital did nothing wrong.
"We did not violate any HIPAA laws. We thoroughly researched this," Spectrum Health representative Bruce Rossman said. "If what the patient says is accurate, then we were defrauded."
Rossman says the hospital verified the patient's name and date of birth before releasing the information. He says the hospital had been trying to reach the patient to give her the results of her test when the allegedly fraudulent phone call came in.
"It was a bad situation and we're sorry that she had to go through this," Rossman said. "We've done a thorough review of the situation."
Spectrum has amended its policies for how it releases information over the phone. Rossman says callers requesting information will not receive the information in the initial call. He says Spectrum will only release details after returning the call to the phone number listed in the patient's file.
Bond says she's happy to hear about the changes in policy, but that the apology letter she received wasn't enough.
"It don't fix what happened to me," Bond said. "This is not no apology letter. That letter is saying, 'Thank you for your feedback.'"
Bond says she has contacted an attorney and plans to sue Spectrum Health for damages.
She decided to share her story in hopes of preventing what happened to her from happening to someone else.
"I'm trying to help everybody else so they won't be in the same predicament that I'm in," Bond said, adding that she hadn't shared the sensitive information in the test results with even her closest friends and relatives before it was posted on social media.
Other major hospitals in West Michigan say they have strict policies that prohibit releasing information over the phone.
Saint Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids, Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming, Holland Hospital and Mercy Health Hospital in Muskegon all said they do not release information over the phone.
"They have no way of verifying," Ellen Bristol, a Metro Health Hospitals representative, explained. "We've got to follow protocol."
Mercy Health Partners said their facilities even require patients to sign an authorization form before getting information in person.
"This procedure allows us to verify the patient's identity, which cannot be done by phone," a Mercy Health Partners Representative wrote in an email statement.
Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo and Bronson Battle Creek do release information by phone. Like the Spectrum Health policy used to, Bronson only requires a name and date of birth for verification.
"Of course we review this as regulations, such as the Privacy Laws, change," a Bronson representative said in an email.
Paradise Bond says the impact of what happened to her will last forever.
"I still gotta hear that. I gotta live with that for the rest of my life. It's never gonna go away," Bond said. "That was private information! Not only was it private information, it was information that got used against me."
Bond said she has requested a personal protection order against the woman who she says got the information about her. She says she has also contacted police about pressing charges against the woman.
Bond said she will not use Spectrum Health for health care in the future.
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