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Palm Beach Health Network accused of sharing patient PHI with Meta

Palm Beach Health Network accused of sharing patient PHI with Meta

The Palm Beach Health Network has been accused of illegally sharing its patients' personal and medical information with social media giant Meta, the owner of Facebook. 


What happened

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, alleges that the Palm Beach Health Network has "disregarded the privacy rights of their patients" by intentionally, recklessly, or negligently failing to implement adequate measures to protect the personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI) of its patients. Specifically, the suit claims that the network has installed Facebook's Meta Pixel and other invisible third-party tracking technologies on its websites, enabling the collection and disclosure of patient data to Meta and other third parties.


Going deeper

According to the lawsuit, the lead plaintiff, Ron Prosky, used the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center's website and patient portal to search for doctors, make appointments, review medical treatments, and access his medical records, including imaging results. Prosky then began receiving targeted advertisements on his Facebook account related to his specific medical conditions and treatments, suggesting that the network had shared his sensitive information with Meta.


In the know 

The lawsuit against the Palm Beach Health Network is the latest in a series of similar claims against healthcare providers across the United States. In recent years, several health networks, including Norvant Health and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, have been accused of illegally sharing patient information with third parties such as Facebook and Google.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights and the Federal Trade Commission have taken steps to address this issue, sending letters to 66 hospitals and health systems warning them that they might be violating federal health privacy laws by installing pixel-tracking technologies on their websites. However, the continued emergence of such lawsuits suggests that more regulatory oversight and enforcement may be necessary to ensure the healthcare industry's compliance with patient privacy laws.


Why it matters 

This latest lawsuit is part of a growing trend of similar allegations against healthcare organizations across the United States, raising serious questions about the industry's commitment to safeguarding sensitive patient data. The alleged installation of tracking tools on Palm Beach Health Network’s website reveals the potential exploitation of sensitive medical data for marketing purposes. Furthermore, the purported sharing of this information with third parties, such as Facebook, for targeted advertising indicates the urgent need for greater transparency and consent in data practices.



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