patient privacy violations

Veterans Affairs Ties CVS For Most Patient Privacy Violations

patient privacy violations

Patient privacy violations were highest at Veterans Affairs and CVS Health based on the number of federal citations, according to a new report.

In response, VA said the agency “takes veteran privacy and the privacy of medical or health records very seriously.” But despite its “very” serious approach to patient privacy, VA tied CVS for the most privacy complaints that resulted in corrective action plans or “technical assistance” from US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) from 2011 to 2014.

How can we continue to believe VA when it continues to have problems in protecting veteran privacy? Why is this always an issue for the agency; is it because of the sheer number of patients or is there something more going on?


ProPublica received the information through a Freedom of Information Act request covering the years between 2011 to 2014; the latter was the most recent year data on patient privacy violations was available.

In addition to the above citations, the nonprofit journalism organization also found:

  • In 2014, HHS received more than 17,000 complaints, as well as tens of thousands of self-reported breaches of medical information.
  • Some providers inadvertently, or in some cases deliberately, shared patients’ medical information without their permission.
  • The top five categories of complaints in 2014 were impermissible uses and disclosures, safeguards, administrative safeguards, access and technical safeguards.

What do you want to bet VA beat out CVS in the “deliberately” sharing of patient data category?

Each year, VA says it “takes veteran privacy” very seriously. We are asked to trust the agency. Still, VA continues to receive these dubious citations each year.

Why is it still an issue?


Is it possible that VA does take privacy seriously on a corporate level but repeatedly fails to follow through with the mission by holding violators accountable?

My best guess is that these persistent privacy problems have more to do with lower level medical professionals not following the law while higher-level executives refuse to hold them accountable.

Maybe this makes it a two-fer kind of betrayal of the public trust and why VA continues to top the charts in patient privacy violations.


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  1. I was an employee of the VA and also a veteran. I retired with PTSD. The dentist I worked with went into my medical record (which was illegal) a Privacy Act Violation. He shared the information with his wife who confronted me about my meds. The Director and the Privacy Act Officer were totally aware of the entire situation and although they had a responsibility to take it further all they did was send me an apology letter. A Privacy Act Violation is punishable by a fine or jail.

  2. CVS is absolutely the WORST damn pharmacy ever invented! I will NEVER again even step foot into that place for a stupid candy bar or Q-Tip after dealing with their fucked up pharmacists and what to me appears to be OVERLY stereotypical ways !!!

    While trying to fill (or even refill since I had done so before) ANY, I mean ANY- even the lowest on totem pole type of Pain Med, narcotic medication- those asshats not only call everyone but the head of Homeland Security to make sure you don’t get anything like this filled thru them, but all stare at you like you are a junkie Doctor shopping – even when coming in with 110% valid hand written scripts for meds!!

    I ceased going to the VAMC years ago after having to cut off a left nut to try and obtain ANY pain med (that was all BEFORE they pulled the rugs out from under us all with ALL narcotic meds- remember?) I was so livid after being treated like a crackhead when trying to deal with brutal service connected injuries that I just about washed my hands of using the damn place and their cock blocking opiate Drs! Talk about over reaction to that Tecumseh incident (or whatever location it was w the out of control doc writing pain med scripts like Trump autographs!) Now they want to polygraph you when n iff you even make it to the docs trying to obtain pain relief anyway whatsoever! SORRY I DROVE OVER THAT IED, oops, SORRY I DROVE OVER FOUR IEDs in my year in Iraq, got shot at daily, and hit by shrapnel from 40 year old RPGs and rockets! WTF OVER!!!

    I hope CVS goes down with the ship and they get banned from filling any service connected Vet scripts (obviously NOTHING directed toward those other SC vets like myself w that statement at all folks!) but CVS blows and its ALMOST like one needs to stroll the DC streets seeking meds for their combat pain relief at this damn point! UGHHHHHHHH.

    (See what you guys got me to do?? now I’m venting like a madman too!) LMFAO!!!!

  3. 09/27/2016

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    The ties go deep into the VA Finances.

    I am surprised the University of Phoenix name is still on the Stadium in Glendale, Arizona; maybe after the Super Bowl.


    Don Karg

  4. Well, the debate is concluded for tonight!

    As far as I’m concerned, Mr. Trump won! Not by much, but he definitely won. I’d say it was 70% – Trump and 30% – Clinton! And I’m being kind to Clinton!
    Why? Because his answers on the major issues were correct!

    I felt Hillary was more interested in attacking him personally! I felt Mr. Trump “kept his cool” and brought out the facts about how our government “hacks” are destroying our country, both within and without!!!!!!

    After the debate, ABC could only talk about the non issues, ie; the “birther” issue and other stupid sh*t which most intelligent Americans don’t give a sh*t about.

    The only thing Lester Holt didn’t do was “fact check” Hillary as he did on Mr. Trump multiple times! Other than that, I find Holt did a fair, (C+), job!

    And, YES, in 2008, the Clinton Campaign started the “birther issue” on Obama, PERIOD! So, stop with the lies against Mr. Trump already!

    Clinton, along with Obama and others in our government, WAS instrumental in starting ISIS. No one can deny this fact. The Democrats and Republicans need to own up to it!

    Clinton, Bill that is, was the beginning of the greater divide between the races.
    Obama is fulfilling Bill & Hillary’s legacy on this issue! Especially after he signed that law putting African American citizens in prisons! I can’t remember the bill he signed. But, I know many ended up in “privately owned prisons” because of that law!

    Bill, with Hillary’s insistence, signed NAFTA into law. It’s beginning started decades before the Clintons. Now, Hillary will end businesses in America with TPP, IF she’s elected!!!! She’s already stated she’ll bring TPP to fruition. As Obama is trying his best to do now!

    These issues and National Security, our Military and Veterans health care, illegal immigration, refugee resettlement, economy, our National Debt and much more are what inteligent people want to know about.
    Mr. Trump wanted these issues brought out tonight. He mentioned this a few times!
    Yet, Hillary wasn’t wanting to discuss these issues. All she wanted was to attack. All she was about was personality, not the pressing issues facing America!
    I hope the next debate is better than tonights!

  5. From “” today, 26 Sept 2016.

    “NWO Is Playing With WW3”

    Quote: “Alex Jones breaks down the hubris and mental illness of the elite who are willing to gamble the millions of lives just to stay in power!”

    The Joints Chief of Staff confirms this!
    Watch the video, please!

  6. No matter what outrageous breach of law, ethics or usage VA commits, they have one stock defense. To release a statement, saying that they take the issue seriously. A bunch of lying clowns, my cat has more integrity than VA.

  7. Although am popping popcorn for tonight’s first debate, I am worried my brain may not be the same after listening to granny’s shrill grating voice in a concentrated period of time, so am not promising any functionality Tuesday, assuming she causes much eye & ear bleeding tonight.
    Yes, I could place the TV on closed caption with volume off but that would be quashing the fun and festivities of this First Ring Match. **DING**
    They should have made this in the form of ‘Thunderdome’, where it’s “Two men enter, only one leaves”. (Figuratively, of course) 🙂

    They also could each wear body cameras! 🙂 I will stop.

  8. I was much better off on Medicaid, before I was forced to get Medicare, and VA. I cannot consciously go to the VA for anything other than prescriptions I have been given by outside Dr’s. I’m definitely in financial trouble because I don’t use VA, but I’m alive. I’m sure I wouldn’t be if I was forced to use the VA. All private and public insurance is going up, and that will hurt me. If I am no longer capable of paying for private insurance, and am forced to use the VA, the choice will be die at VA, or die at home. I guess it’s still a choice. VA will only get worse.

  9. This morning on, 95.6 FM, my favorite conservative news station! I think its “call letters” are WKDO!
    There was an interesting story on “Veterans Homelessness”!
    Seems over “800 local and county” leaders, nationwide, are doing the job of VA. That is, these local entities, ie; mayors, councils, etc., are finding places for veterans and their families to live!
    Doesn’t VA receive tax dollars for this? Where’s it going? Why isn’t VA hollering up a storm, saying how many vets they’ve housed?
    Oh, I know why, they let the local governments do their jobs, then go in front of Congress and take all the credit!

    1. …and keep the $ while having the audacity to ask for more, please!

      There was a time last Winter where it was the Community Shelter Board that was out there in the weather going to the woods and streets where known Homeless Veterans camped-out, checking on them, giving blankets, et al. Would you know I have YET to hear of VSO’s going out there at ANY time of year to help those Veterans or at least check on them? Not once. It’s always the County/City doing this, not the VA or it’s entourage of VSO lamprey. I would go as far as also stating that it’s these same agencies that try to help with Veteran Suicide Prevention measures and support as well.

      Great question: Where and HOW is the $$$ actually being utilized!

      1. If you use the two examples I replied to Elf with, I believe you find your answer.

        I am guessing, but I believe in the case of illegal aliens or refugees, all an organization needs to do is claim they are providing for refugee X to a federal program, and the organization is promptly given a set amount to deal with refugee X, with options to claim much more as a cost of taking care of refugee X.

        I suspect it’s similar to having an ATM card.

        OTOH, a homeless veteran does not have an organization wading through the reams of red tape for them to get a one time housing grant only from the VA after several months of trying.

        There is no thought to helping with subsistence, medical or other…all of that is up to the veteran to get approved through a VERY adversarial process.

        If states were serious, every state would have a state level organization solely to help veterans get the benefits the federal government is required to provide. It would go a long way towards insuring the veteran is taken care of, and does not become a burden on the state.

    2. I think if you find out where or how that money is budgeted or allocated, you would find your answer.

      How many millions are provided to the VA for veteran homelessness? Once budgeted, how is it administered? Can it be used for other things like “art”?

      I believe much of it is funneled through the VA, but if there is an amount left over at the end of the year, where does it go?

      Clearly there is a bigger incentive to NOT use the money as intended, or the problem would not be as big as it is.

      Now ask yourself, how is it an illegal alien or “refugee” can get into the country and be housed as quickly as possible with welfare, medical and school in place as quickly as it is?
      I think the answer to that is the federal money spigot is turned on for many organizations to handle administering that funding on behalf of those illegals or refugees.
      For some time, it has been reported that several “religious” organizations are facilitating taking in illegal aliens and refugees, to the tune of well over $10000 each. Clearly there has to be a financial incentive for them to do so.

      There is NO similar incentive for homeless veterans.

      1. Catholic and Lutheran Social Services are the larger ones. You are right, no such incentive to help Homeless Veterans with Housing, Food, basics.
        Here in Columbus, OH the city tore down last year an only 50 year old Veteran’s Memorial along the river so they could “beautify river banks with bike paths”, and that Veteran’s Memorial Building was the ONLY place for Veterans to go at very select times during week and meet with VSO’s and the County Veteran’s Commission for such help…but…to this day, building torn down and bike paths built…yet…no contingency plan was made for an alternate site for these same previous services….just bulldozed and forget. Due to that, we have even more Homeless Veterans and those that have long given-up fighting for their VA Benefits on the streets or woods.

        Yeah, I am still steaming a year later about all this. Almost starting to think nobody actually really cares one bit. That piece of real estate was more important than the services it provided to Veterans, not to mention the museum and loads of Historical War stuff that it once housed and it was a good sized building. It was also where the Veteran Stand Downs each year would be held. No more. Never even had a Veteran Stand Down last year and cannot see the future any different because the city has moved on and no Homeless are allowed around those paths. Go figure.

      2. 91Veteran,
        I read somewhere, local governments do receive taxpayers monies to settle refugees (and possibly illegal aliens).
        I know there were citizens in Idaho up in arms over that this year. If I remember correctly, it came out at a town hall meeting. After that little girl had been sexually attacked by three young muslim boys.
        So Mr. Trump is correct, when he claims refugees and illegals are treated better than veterans!

  10. I wrote to the Federal Trade Comm about Kaiser Permanente getting caught using over 31,000 ex-employees, those that were fired, using their documents to get them to use kaiser as their new health care provider and the HHS stated that there was no problem. Mind you I didn’t send the complaint to HHS but to the FTC. It seems that when a filing a complaint to a specific dept, they transfer it to the (wrong) department WHICH THEN helps hide the reality of the problem

    This was in a subsequent article about your problem. So why is OK to share patients information?. There are a few reasons, so that just maybe the info goes to illegals or legals besides using the info to USE FOR mail in’s. and then share the info with other insurance companies and other health care agencies like the HHS & the SSA. At kaiser, employees at all levels looked up other coworkers medical info just to get a laugh or too if one of their coworkers had a medical condition that could hurt them down the road and that should have been protected. and it didn’t matter if it was just looking at a physical chart or the computer. Our biggest problem was that employees access to charts were right in the facilities. It seems it doesn’t matter that anyone can look at patients charts with no repercussions AND THAT is the worst with other employees breaking the rules but with supervisors and management doing the same thing to get some one fired. IF an employee looked up a chart to help the patient,they would have been fired, so it appears anyone can look up someone’s chart as long as it has nothing to do with helping the patient. (WHICH IS WHAT SHOULD BE, ONLY HELPING THE PATIENT AND WHAT DID THE VA EMPLOYEE ACTUALLY DO GOOD FOR THE VET ALONG WITH THEIR TEAM AFTER READINQ THE vets file??)

    There should NOT be a team in any of this. Apparently HHS is well aware of the many breaches with over 17,000 COMPLAINTS. Kaiser was a part of this and I complained to the FTC about the breach. Kiaser got caught by the CA. AG that paid 150,000.00 TO THE AG & 130,000.00 of it went to the CA AG for legal services but yet kaiser stated they would change this and they did not.. Like the VA which has kaiser influence just can do whatever they damn well please. I worked for kaiser in the hospital and the clinic IN THE 80/90’S and I’m here to let you know that, it is the air force running the place and the very same things that happen to you happen to patients and employees alike where I worked. and it’s even worse for those who no longer work there, along with their families info, those that were fired while on comp,
    Kaiser calls it BLUE SKIES, meaning they are above the law, ell so is the VA,HHS, SSA, all of the federal agencies. I did work in the medical filed prior to kaiser and kaiser is not a real medical care at all. It’s the biggest scam of public taxpayer money there ever was and teaching others who are federal contractors or agencies o do the same.(theft)
    There is no accountability at all. When an employee can be killed( mob hit style) on the job, lay dead for 6 hours, and the public is not informed then they are BLUE SKIES AND SO IS THE VA. and it is since kaiser tells them what to do for vets who are patients.Medical care, which is gone and it’s all about who gonna make money off of injured, ill or dead vets and civilians.

  11. On another note…did anyone catch the Forbes article about VA art?

    The VA apologizes for pissing away millions in art, then rather than stopping it, they just set rules for buying it since they had none previously.
    Under the new rules, a hospital director can only spend up to $25000 on certain “art”, a VISN director has to approve anything between $25000 and $50000, and VACO has to approve anything over $50000.
    It’s from the new VHA Directive 1395, Appendix A.

    Of course the VA ignored any suggestions that veterans art be purchased and displayed in VAs.

    The VA claims they are following some NIH guideline that “art creates a healing environment”.

    How many NIH guidelines does the VA ignore while following this BS art guideline?

    Does the NIH have to issue a freaking guideline on providing timely access to care to keep a patient from dying?

    How about an NIH guideline on not beating a veteran to death?

    I bet the NIH has guidelines on patient privacy.

  12. I think you hit it right on the head Ben. I believe the violations are by those much lower, and although VA management may have policies in place, they give them lip service and refuse to hold anyone accountable.
    It reminds me of an earlier post I believe you had here some months ago. I read somewhere (maybe ProPublica) that the VA was patting themselves on the back for encouraging employees to voluntarily report violations in some official system they have. VA management assured employees it wasn’t to punish anyone, but to correct any unknown processes leading to those “mistakes”.
    Reading through the violations showed they were not anywhere close to mistakes, but gross incompetence in many instances, or unauthorized employees snooping.

    Neither are mistakes.

    It also reminds me of reading news somewhere about the VA faxing medical records to some construction company for 2 freaking years before the company owner finally got some VA flunky on the phone to stop it.

    All of this points to a total absence of any accountability for those handling private material. With no accountability and employees knowing they will never face punishment, it results in laziness, incompetence and complacency.

    A very damning news article would be a comparison between privacy violations and penalties in the private sector, and the same in the VA.

    I suspect in the private sector, government oversight entities will stomp on whoever is responsible for a violation, while the same entity yawns when it happens at the VA.

  13. When you have a criminally run organization such as the VA that is protected from prosecution for violation laws. They have no real incentive to prevent law breaking by anyone connected to that organization. So of course the law breaking including improper release of Veteran’s Medical information will continue.

    The same goes for Veterans Claims information at the following shows. When the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs shared Claims information on 638 Veterans to organizations that obtained it illegally.

    “Review of Alleged Breach of Privacy and Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information at the Milwaukee VARO”; VAOIG Report,16-00623-306, 9/15/2016


    Of course, as we all know, this same criminally run organization has also become very-adapt at breaking the law to hide information on wrong doing and Veteran’s Medical records when they support a claim against the VA.

    This is again caused by the lack of prosecution of anyone breaking the law.

    Until they start enforcing the law and prosecuting violators there is not going to be any real change to protect Veteran’s Information.

    Oh and, Hey Elf; Did She Call in Sick for the Debate Yet?

    1. Not yet Seymore. But “rumor” has it the democrats want someone else to debate Mr. Trump. I saw it on Utube this morning, just can’t remember who they said! I think it’s one from the “Clinton News Network”!

      What’s the odds out in Vegas? Anyone know off hand?
      I think if I were to bet on this. It would be that Clinton can’t go the full time, 90 minutes, without some kind of LENGTHY bathroom break! Or, maybe even passing out!

      I also wonder what the “odds” are on her going on a real bad rant. Or even cursing at Mr. Trump for bringing up all the illegal acts, and useless political shit she’s pulled or committed in the past 35-40 years!
      Like when she ran for Senator. What did she do for the people of New York? Answer – not a damn thing!
      We all know the stuff she did as Secretary of State! No need to ponder on that. FOR NOW!

      1. Wonder if they approved a safety harness attached to the podium to protect her from falling off her booster step.

    Hell, if DHS, and all the other security agencies, can “spy” on everything, and I do mean everything, Americans do. What makes anyone believe VA will keep secret anything pertaining to veterans! Whether by accident, or on purpose, VA is a criminal agency. And, information is money, everything is for sale! If not for sale, then let all the info out for free!
    We’re learning this from Hillary’s many breaches of national security for her foundation!

    Here’s another form of non compliance with HYPPA!
    In the “mental health department”, there’s also no privacy, at the VA clinic in Orange City, Fl.!
    The Mental Health (non)Professionals are letting whomever they want, as long as they work there, to either listen in on appointments, or read, by way of their computers, everything that is said between patient and doctor!
    When caught, they say, QUOTE: “We work as a team!” UNQUOTE!
    They’re also supposed to use “sound machines” outside of all the doors when patients are being seen. THEY DON’T! And when caught, they lie and say they do!

    I say, shut all VHA’s down and start anew, with all new people! Plus, find out where all the taxpayers monies are going first!

  15. I will state this again: My first “VAMC Intake visit” some years ago, while in an examination room with a very rough around the collar Nurse Ratched asking very private and sensitive medical and personal questions….with the door wide-assed open behind her and when I *politely asked* her to close the door for privacy reasons, she produced a female “Grinch Face” with an evil grin that lit-up her face like a kid on Christmas morning and said to me, “YOU HAVE NO PRIVACY NOR ANY EXPECTATION OF IT AT THE VA”, and finished statement with an evil laugh that was akin to the episode when Tweety Bird escapes into Dr. Jeckle & Hyde’s laboratory and after exposed to Dr. Jeckle’s elixir, turned into a monstrously large Tweety Bird Beast with a sinister laugh….that was my VA Nurse Intake Experience.

    The VA did not even try to hide it. Plain and in my face, “YOU HAVE NO PRIVACY AT THE VA”. That seasoned RN’s face and non-caring of laws protecting patients at her “lower level” had me naturally assume that this is a systemic position at ALL LEVELS…but certainly NOT isolated to lower level because upper management is equally to blame because crap falls by the way of gravity unless you are in outer space and we are not.

    I just do not think the VA gives a rat’s ass unless it affects their bottom line and non-performance bonuses.

    On a similar note: This past week I received three different emails about how the VHA has teamed-up with Walgreens in providing flu shots. I asked my head pharmacist at the Walgreens I use about it and he rolled his eyes and said from what he read it will be much easier for a Vet to go directly to the VA for a flu shot or pay out of pocket because his experience with the VA is they will be lucky to ever be paid or paid within 6 months once a service like flu shots are authorized. He made some comment about HIPPA Laws and how the VA has no regard for them because he has seen letters and electronic correspondence from VA on behalf of patients that had either partial or full information of other Veterans as well or the wrong Veteran all together.

    The VA does not give a rat’s ass but the VA Spin Dr. will ALWAYS tell you differently. Spinning lies into versions of VA cotton candy truth to be spit-out the South end of the VA Meat Grinder in candy shaped rainbows and fairy dust.

    Rant Out.

    1. The VHA should come out with their very own breakfast cereal brand knockoff and called it, “VA Lucky Stars”, with a brand mascot of a VA Unicorn with McDuck’s face, shooting those lucky stars from it’s behind into magical marshmallow shapes of deception called VA Lies.
      “Veterans are always trying to steal our Lucky Stars!! They’re magically delicious!!” NOW in special “VBA Murphy Agent Orange Flavor” for Halloween and that permanent Joker Smile for years of fun. Collect box tops to support your favorite VSO.” 🙂

      1. From Ben’s article, I quote: “[The VA said: “VA takes veteran privacy and the privacy of medical or health records very seriously.]”

        Anyone find it odd that the VA makes a point in it’s limited statement and words to differentiate “Medical or Health Records” in that spin? Is that not an oxymoronic spin and to what purpose? Is there a way they can for instance, reclassify a Vet’s Medical to “Health” to use some loophole to transmit VA Telemedicine Hack on an island in a really nice hut on Mariana Islands…then back to “Medical” when convenient for the VA? How the hell is privacy maintained with the so-called ‘Choice Program’?

        I am asking because language is everything and when you take notice in the VA’s statement, they could not be bothered to use more than **14 WORDS OR LESS**, meaning “push send for blanket *we care* Twitter VA Public Relations App…at million$ each year?
        Is this revelation about CVS and the VA the reason the VA has jumped ship to Walgreens for flu shots this year? Walgreens actually has a history going back to the original VA set-up and pharmacy services if my nerdy historical facts are right. More coffee.

        That statement from article should instead read:

        ****The VA takes Veteran privacy and the privacy of medical OR health records as seriously as the VA properly shreds documents.****

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