Vanderbilt University Medical Center sued for disclosing medical records of Transgender Patients to Tennessee’s attorney general.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is facing a lawsuit from its transgender clinic patients, alleging a breach of privacy by disclosing their medical records to Tennessee’s attorney general.

The legal action, filed in Nashville Chancery Court, represents two patients who claim to be among over 100 individuals whose records were handed over to Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. While the attorney general’s office maintains that it is conducting a routine fraud investigation unrelated to patients or their families, the patients argue that Vanderbilt should have safeguarded their personal information before complying.

Tennessee has become notable for its implementation of conservative-driven laws targeting transgender individuals, resulting in some of the nation’s most stringent anti-LGBTQ restrictions. Despite concerns raised by families and advocates regarding the harmful effects of such policies, the state has continued its pursuit of such laws. The lawsuit is seeking class-action status on behalf of all clinic attendees whose private medical records were disclosed to Skrmetti.

The patients assert that Vanderbilt was well aware of the state’s antagonistic stance towards transgender rights and should have taken precautions to redact their personally identifying information before sharing the records. The release of their private medical information has caused significant distress, leading to increased anxiety, security measures, and withdrawal from regular activities.

While the attorney general’s office has stated that the records provided by the hospital have been kept confidential since December 2022, the patients argue that Vanderbilt failed in its duty to protect their privacy. They accuse the medical center of negligence, which has resulted in emotional harm and violations of patient privacy protection and consumer protection laws.

The lawsuit seeks various remedies, including monetary damages, enhanced security procedures, an injunction preventing further release of records without prior notification, acknowledgment from Vanderbilt of its privacy policy violation, and an admission that the policy inadequately informs patients of their rights concerning disclosures.

Vanderbilt reportedly took months before informing patients that their medical information had been shared, only doing so after the existence of the requests came to light in another court case. The attorney general’s additional requests for information extended to the names of individuals referred to the transgender clinic, those who participated in the Trans Buddy initiative, and others.

The attorney general’s office initiated these requests following the surfacing of videos by conservative commentator Matt Walsh in September, featuring a medical center doctor discussing the financial benefits of gender-affirming procedures for hospitals. Subsequently, Vanderbilt suspended gender-affirming surgeries for minors under pressure from Republican lawmakers and Gov. Bill Lee, who called for an investigation.

Tennessee lawmakers later passed a ban on gender-affirming care for minors, which was recently allowed to take effect by a federal appeals court after being initially blocked by a lower court judge.

To learn, how your medical records should be treated, read our article on HIPAA.

We help individuals take control of their medical care and navigate the complexities of healthcare system including preserving their right to their healthcare information and medical records. Learn more about it here.

Dr. Muhammad Hussain
Dr. Muhammad Hussain

MD, Entrepeneur & Administrator. Six years of experience, working in the field of clinical care, medical administration, and healthcare business.

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