An EMS lieutenant is in hot water with FDNY over a photo he posted on his Facebook page. Lt. Michael Palleschi, a 12-year veteran, apparently found a patient’s chief complaint so amusing, that he photographed the on-board mobile data terminal description that said “swollen vagina”.
The problem was the photo included confidential patient information, including the patient’s name and address, and Palleschi posted it to his Facebook page without blocking out those details. The New York Post is reporting that the FDNY brass are now seeking to have Palleschi terminated.
HIPAA violations can result in civil fines of up to $25,000 per offense, $50,000 plus a year in jail for criminal offenses (which could potentially be applicable here), or in cases where information is released for “commercial advantage, personal gain, or malicious harm” the fine becomes $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 10 years. There are no cases interpreting “malicious harm”…. yet.
Besides HIPAA, there are state privacy laws that clearly place Palleschi in the patient's crosshairs should she choose to file suit.
The NY Post is also reporting that Palleschi is being investigated for a separate prank: he sent an EMS Explorer/intern into a Dunkin Donuts with a note that the Explorer believed was a food order, but actually was a stickup note demanding cash.