Privacy Violations

Benjamin KrauseShocking increases in Department of Veterans Affairs’ privacy violations were included in ProPublica coverage of a national question seeking to discover how secure our records are.

The news organization found shocking examples of data being sent to the wrong widows, employees snooping on patients who committed suicide, and whistleblowers who had their own privacy violated in various forms of retaliatory schemes.

VA TAKES PRIVACY VIOLATIONS SERIOUSLY, RIGHT?

But rest assured, VA told ProPublica that privacy is a top priority. Believe them? I am pretty sure the folks at ProPublica do not.

After some analysis, ProPublica determined privacy complaints at VA have more than doubled from 2011 to 2014, jumping from 1,547 to 3,054. VA attempted to explain away the increase by claiming the agency merely improved its reporting of privacy violations.

RELATED: VA Misleading Veterans About ‘Blue Button’ My HealtheVet

John Oswalt, VA’s associate deputy assistant secretary for privacy and records told ProPublica:

“I think we have a pretty good track record of getting people to report when they make a mistake or when they observe something happening… If we were out there punishing people for human error, I think you would see the number of reported incidents go down, but that doesn’t serve the needs of the veteran.”

VA claims it appropriately handles complaints that employees unlawfully snoop through medical files of whistleblowers who also receive their care from VA, ““Complaints that VA receives from whistleblowers about inappropriate access to their health records are thoroughly investigated and appropriate actions are taken where warranted.”

DOES VETERANS AFFAIRS MISUSE HIPAA TO HARASS WHISTLEBLOWERS?

But this is not true according to whistleblower Brandon Coleman who came forward about Phoenix VA failures to protect suicidal veterans. Coleman blew the whistle, but shortly thereafter various VA employees began sifting through his own medical file that the facility. Coleman is a disabled veteran of the Marines who was an addiction therapist until VA put him on paid leave after he outted VA for it numerous failures.

VA did nothing about HIPAA violations committed against Coleman.

RELATED: VA Dismissive About Data Breach

However, doctors report that VA is using HIPAA to leverage doctors to prevent them from reporting instances of misconduct by other health care providers. According to Dr. Kathleen Mitchell, VA will inappropriately investigate whistleblowers who release certain protected information to investigators to help detect wrongdoing.

Instead, VA apparently only likes to punish whistleblowers instead of wrongdoers when it comes to private medical records. So who is really being protected?

Source: https://www.propublica.org/article/privacy-violations-rising-at-veterans-medical-facilities

Daniel Medlin

I am working with Congress to implement the Medlin act to get the active.duty army involved scandal after scandal after scandal this behavior has no choice but to fall into conspiracies within this agency the world sees this media coverage differently than we do my soul rattles with anger they are taking advantage of the flesh from the ones that have protected us

CorpsmanuP! (@Tang1967)
HHS , OSC and the MSPB is a complete joke. The OIG directly violated my privacy rights by accessing the CAPRI system to see if I applied or was recieving Disability compensation so that they could communicate with DOJ regarding any weapons that I may own or how they could scheme to bar me from obtaining one. The special agent, Chris Algeri from the New Jersey OIG field office directly spoke with a social worker at the Wilmington VA regarding… Read more »
Carolyn Fields-Wilkins
Carolyn Fields-Wilkins
I received another Veteran’s complete C-File. I went to the media and they did a story on it. But to my knowledge, the Veteran file we received did not get anything but his credit monitored. I had the file for almost a month and then I was told to just mail it back. I paid to have the file properly shipped back UPS to the RO. For I knew They would come after me again, if the file they had… Read more »
johnny5
I really doubt that those numbers are accurate. I was mailed a VA Form from another vets widow, exactly how you mention here. All of my data was on this form, addy, email, ssn, phone full name, the whole shot, and info about my heal via claim information. I reported this, and never heard a word from them. It was 2 months later, I initiated a follow-up contact, before a supervisor called me. Now, I play the waiting game to… Read more »
91Veteran
Contact the Privacy Officer and ask what steps you need to take to report this. Put it in writing. I believe you can report a violation on your own without them. If you want to pin them in a corner, send them a FOIA request for any information on you and this violation. When they can’t produce anything, you can ask in writing why they didn’t formally report this after you notified them, and after a supervisor called you. I… Read more »
crazy elf
Have y’all ever noticed VA always says things like; “We’re investigating (the problem)”, yet nothing happens. Or, “That’s Unacceptable”, yet nothing changed! Or, Whenever they get caught in something illegal, they say, Our “Highest priority is veterans safety!” or some drival. Or, some idiot will sit in front of our “representatives” and try to bullshit their way out of trouble. By thinking the American public is stupid. Case in point, Gibson trying to rewrite “Webster’s Dictionary” over the definition of… Read more »
91Veteran
You’re right crazyelf, they minimize everything or try painting a rosy picture, such as the comment by Oswalt. This attitude has been created by the VA believing they are exempt from the laws, rules, regulations that any other provider must follow. Look at the contrast in what a private hospital must do, and what the VA does, and you can see how that attitude permeates the entire VA because of the arrogance in thinking they are exempt. Contaminated with Legionella?… Read more »
91Veteran
The ProPublica article is very good, and contains some links within the article that could be very useful to veterans. I commented on those here last week. Thanks for writing about this Ben. One of the better links is to a site called HIPAA helper where you can search through REPORTED HIPAA violations at your VA, and read the lame excuses or minimal action the VA took on each one. I emphasize reported because you can be sure there are… Read more »
Frank Calderon
Dear Mr. Krause: The comment by Daniel Medlin about getting Congress involved sounds good,but wirh all the publicity this isue has been getting I cannot believe Congress is not aware of it including the President, with all the publicity it has been getting through the O.I.G. and the D.O.J.who watered it all down whereby they reduced 45 criminal acts to only 5 and the “President” lets that slide by? Yes and all the Federal laws now in existence and the… Read more »
Frank Calderon

Dear Mr. Krause:

An additional comment now I think it is time to impeach all in high government from the top all down the provisions to do so can be found in Art. 2 Sec.4 or Art.1 Secs.2 and 3.

And nor only Veteran’s rights but that of all 365+ million Americans for whom we were willing to fight and die including those of the JUDASES we now have in Government.

Yours for GOG and Country
Frank P. Calderon

Bonnie casler
I have a flag that has caused me great emotional harm. High risk for suicide flags open your record to everyone with a computer. I do have thoughts and went to the VA for help. Instead they placed me on a list. I cannot use the Va for over four months now because I do not want clerks seeing my medical issue. It stigmatizes me. I am not a danger and feel this is my business. The VA says they… Read more »
Rick Lipary
More than five months ago, I requested copies of my personnel and medical records from active duty through FOIA. About three weeks later, I received an envelope about a quarter of an inch thick. When I left active duty, my medical records were about five and a half inches thick, and my personnel file was about four inches thick. How does that happen!? Everything I received was heavily redacted and exempted, with apparently no need for an explanation! 44 years… Read more »
Edward J. Blassingame Sr
Edward J. Blassingame Sr

Trash the present VA and rebuild from the ground up,the disgusting heinous things being done there is the kicker I’ve been waiting 5 years for VA to send documents from my own records it’s an institution whose wheels have fell off rouge leadership who left the reservation decades ago

91Veteran

If you have Facebook, go on to the VA is Lying Facebook page and look at the pinned post. There are two VA employees email addresses listed there. I emailed them mid-December requesting a complete copy of my medical records and C file. They responded quickly and said it would be 6-10 weeks because of the holidays and multiple VAs. I got the CD with my records 2 days ago.

arnieandcaroline13

I JUST CAME BACK FROM MY MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER I ASKED WHY IN VETERANS RECORDS I HAVE PTSD ITS JUST WRITTEN NOT TELLING ME HOW THE MENTAL HEALTH PROVIDER CAME TO THAT DECISION………IF SOME VETERAN READS THIIS HOW I CAN GAIN THAT INFORMATION PLEASE REPLY BACK TO ME…….THANKS. ……SEMPER FI

Daniel Gray

I have already let it be known that if the VA violates my HIPPA privacy for ANY reason, including the illgal and unconstitutional orders from Obama, that I would ruin them. I would spend my last dime making sure they were in a court before a US District Judge and then they could explain to the federal judge why they violated federal law.

namnibor
I just returned from my private cognitive therapist appointment that I go to once a month and I was talking to her about how at the main university hospital, where I obtain all my medical as well as Psych Dr. every so many months for RX’ing meds, how yet another Psych Dr. (attending) had left and told me she was going to the VA to work. My cognitive therapist works part time at that Psych Dept. with totally different role… Read more »
arnieandcaroline13

Thanks for the message namnibor now I hopefully fix my problems like the old saying says what comes around……..Semper Fi

ronald

HEY GOOGLE THIS. MAKES ME SICK……….Critics allege conflict of interest in VA care probe

arnieandcaroline13
ronald i hear what you have but i said sometime ago all ttne remarks i have ssen my belief their must be away for us Veterans who been on here to share our thoughts to The Senate of Veterans Affairs to improve Veterans Healthcare if you go on Facebook i am only one name is Arnold Cabral so go on their to contact me and Spread the word to everyone you actually chat with or you know remember in this… Read more »
Stu Steinberg
This is the tip of the iceberg. In my claims work, I always have my clients execute VA Form 21-22a, which appoints a specific service officer, not an organization. The law requires the VA to recognize that person and only that person. I always make that clear in the cover letter I send with every new claim I file. The VA, with the exception of Portland (Oregon), ignores this and ends up sending things related to my cases to VVA… Read more »
crazy elf

Great news Stu.
Keep Ben Krause updated. Do you have his email address?
This might also help veterans win claims against VA. I will bet many on here never heard of 21-22a form before.
Thanks for your input!

Stu Steinberg

I will let Ben and the list know how this goes.

Ray Goff
From: Ray Goff [mailto:[email protected]] Sent: Friday, December 25, 2015 9:21 AM To: ‘[email protected]’; ‘[email protected]’ Cc: ‘[email protected]’; ‘[email protected]’; ‘[email protected]’; Curtis Byrd ([email protected]); ‘RORY’; ‘[email protected]’; Jeff [email protected]; ‘[email protected]’ Subject: VARO Philadelphia ltr310/PMC?NJWXSSXXXXXXXXXGoff, W.D> Importance: High Debi – Please Pass To Rachael Malone in Philadelphia – I do not have her telephone number or office code. Hi Rachael, Please distribute this to the following personnel. RO Director, VA Regional Office Gary T. Hodge J.M.Paul Curtis Byrd – Please pass to Rep Randy Forbes… Read more »
Frank Calderon
Dear Mr.Krause: I see the mistreatment and suffering now heaped upon disabled veterans by the VA. as more horrific and sadistic, at the hands of their own countrymen who are their own relatives, husbands, brothers, sons, even worse then what our young and brave servicemen and women; have endured in concentration camps at the hands of strangers, in all the wars we have engaged throughout the history of our Nation, and worse yet with the apparent blessing of our own… Read more »
B casler
As I read this site and see all the wrongs done to disabled veterans, it increases my suicidal thoughts and wishes. I went to the VA for that reason. To get help with my thoughts as well as complex PTSD, anxiety disorder and panic attacks. Once I learned of record flags and the exposure of myersonal medical issue being high risk, I have not been back to the VA. That would be 4 months. I made my reaction to the… Read more »
Frank Calderon
Dear Mr. Krause: A message to my fellow VETERANS do not give up maintain a strong Faith in GOD you as I did not give up in our military life keep that strong Faith and Hope I guarantee it will see us through it has done so in life then and now, GOD never fails if we sincerely ask for help, show the spirit we did while in the military, we did and see how it pulled us through? Yours… Read more »
arnieandcaroline13
As for me Frank Calderon i have for pray for will God’s will my Veteran Mental health care provider find out how it got in Veteran Medical Records how i got PTSD he knows its my Veterans Reords but he doesn’t know what made it be my Veteran Medical Records oh well i just have God’s will fimd out and if i do have it will won’t come to the i need Mental health treatment for PTSD……SEMPER FI ALL YOU… Read more »
arnieandcaroline13

I just noticed i post something twice pleast forgive me Veterans.

ronald

You know I couldn’t have said it any better..

ronald

B casler You know I couldn’t have said it any better..

arnieandcaroline13

ronald have you hear of a form called 21-22 a lf you have tell me what does it mean ? Please ……Semper Fi.

Don Karg
01/10/2016 Dear Benjamin Krause, After seeing the reports come in on the FBI Director’s [Comey] decision to shut down the investigation on 12/30/2015, there is not much one can say about the Treason. This is the year of the “The Pretender.” Jackson Browne said it well: I’m gonna be a happy idiot And struggle for the legal tender Where the ads take aim and lay their claim To the heart and the soul of the spender And believe in whatever… Read more »
David A. Gates

Don’t bother with Federal Court, the VA will just lie… They lie to Congress, what would make you think they would be compelled to tell the truth in Federal Court?

I had several counts of invasion of privacy and retaliation in my Federal Law Suit, and spent years trying to work through the federal courts, but ended up not getting anywhere because of the VA withholding of evidence and lying in the information they did give.

Dina Padilla
AS LONG AS RECORDS ARE ON DONE ELECTRONICALLY BY COMPUTERS, NO INFO/DATA IS SAFE. ANYONE WORKING IN ANY MEDICAL DEPT, WHETHER PRIVATE OR GOV’T INCLUDING THE MILITARY HAS EASY ACCESS. TO ANYONE because they are in charge of ALL IT.. THE MILITARY HAS ACCESS TO KAISER RECORDS SO THEY CAN IN TURN CHECK ON ANYONE WITH MEDICAL OR PERSONAL INFO ANYONE. Kiaser already was caught with ID theft from past & current employees/members & families but barely a small fine… Read more »
Bonnie casler
Of course they want the guns out of the hands of veterans. A group of people who are trained and can defend themselves and others. How many shooting have been done by veterans? Veterans suffer from PTSD which is considered a mental illness. Should it be? Post traumatic stress would be a better term. People have suffered with depression forever. Will all the people with depression be unauthorized to have guns? How are they going to find all of these… Read more »
arnieandcaroline13

Bonnie casler are you put your thoughts in Local newspaper a pen is sharper than any sword and your Veterans Friends please puts yours thoughts how to improve Veterans Healthcare and believe or not i going to put in my Local Newspaper get rid of the Veterans Choice Card keep Fee base.

Benjamin Golan (@elapoides)
Benjamin Golan (@elapoides)
Just found out today anyone working at the VA hospital, anyone, can access ALL of our medical information, personal or not! When you engage in a conversation with your doctor, or even a counselor, your conversation is thoroughly recorded. Anything you believe is private, or any imagined respect of privacy you believe you have DOES NOT EXIST! This is a clear warning to ALL US Veterans, you cannot trust anyone at the VA for any reason. You are placing your… Read more »
Rick Lipary

Good luck complaining about privacy, ESPECIALLY if you are a MALE veteran! They will instantly and summarily label you mentally ill, and, because there is ZERO oversight, they will make it STICK! For the most part, the patient “advocates” are man hating females, and many of them are dykes!

wpDiscuz