The healthcare company CVS is due to face legal action in Ohio due to the latest scandal involving the privacy of patients with HIV. This follows a similar case against Aetna Healthcare, in which patients were awarded over $17 million over the disclosure of confidential information of individuals HIV statuses.
This new case against CVS was first filed in March. The company are being sued by 6000 of its customers, who claim that CVS revealed their HIV status in letter that were sent out last year. The letter were sent as part of the state HIV drug assistance program, which included information about new benefits cards and the start of a mail prescription program.
However, the lawsuit have claimed that when the letters were sent out, the HIV status of the customers involved was clearly visible through the clear window of the envelope. Fiserv, the company used by CVS for mailing letters to customers, are also names in the court case. Both the companies are being sued by three plaintiffs, who have chosen to remain anonymous.
When commenting on the case, the first plaintiff said: “CVS has essentially handed a weapon to anyone who handled the envelope, giving them the opportunity to attack his identity or cause other harm to him.” The second said that he now lives in fear of stigma from the disclosure of this information, and fears that “friends and family run the risk of being stigmatized just by being seen with him.” The third also said that he had experienced “experienced complications and health issues since this disclosure, up to and including just in the past several days.”
The lawyers acting on behalf of the customers said that CVS had failed to inform customers of the privacy breach, which has caused even more distress. CVS said in a statement: “CVS Health places the highest priority on protecting the privacy of those we serve, and we take our responsibility to safeguard confidential information very seriously. As soon as we learned of this incident, we immediately took steps to eliminate the reference code to the plan name in any future mailings.”