Health Care

Fired after NFL player’s medical chart leaked to ESPN, worker sues

The New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul, with white bandages on his right hand, recovers a fumble in a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Dec. 14, 2015 — about four months after doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital amputated his right index finger following a fireworks accident.
The New York Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul, with white bandages on his right hand, recovers a fumble in a game against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Dec. 14, 2015 — about four months after doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital amputated his right index finger following a fireworks accident. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

A secretary fired from Jackson Health System on grounds she breached the privacy of New York Giants’ player Jason Pierre-Paul’s medical records has sued Miami-Dade’s public hospital network, denying she accessed the private information and saying her former employer defamed and libeled her.

On July 8, 2015, an ESPN reporter posted a picture of Pierre-Paul’s medical chart to Twitter — revealing that doctors at Jackson Memorial had amputated the NFL player’s right index finger. Pierre-Paul had injured his hand setting off fireworks in South Florida on July 4.

Brenda Jackson, a 14-year employee at Jackson Memorial Hospital, says in the lawsuit that administrators made false accusations against her to the media, triggering nightmares and “sudden and unexpected illness,” including migraine headaches. She’s asking for damages in excess of $15,000, according to the suit.

In a recent response to the suit, however, Jackson Health stood by its firing of the secretary and a second employee, Immacula Richmond, a clinical staff nurse in the operating room, for inappropriately accessing Pierre-Paul’s health record in violation of federal patient privacy laws. Richmond is not a party to the lawsuit.

According to court filings, hospital administrators fired Jackson in September, citing her for violating policies and procedures related to patient privacy, confidentiality and disclosure of information. But Jackson denies she did anything wrong, and included in her court filings a two-sentence denial she signed in August 2015.

Jackson could not be reached through her attorney, James Jean-Francois of Hollywood. But the lawsuit sheds some light on the internal investigation hospital administrators launched shortly after the Twitter posting.

The day that ESPN first reported on Pierre-Paul’s medical record, Jackson left work early “because she was feeling ill,” according to her suit.

It’s unclear exactly what role hospital administrators believe Jackson played in the leak of Pierre-Paul’s information. However, the hospital’s court filing cites an internal audit that revealed that on July 21, 2015 — nearly two weeks after Pierre-Paul’s records were leaked to ESPN — the secretary accessed the patient’s chart four times “without any necessary reason and authorization to do so.”

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