Patient sues Google, UChicago for sharing patient data

The University of Chicago and Google are facing a class action lawsuit after one former patient at UChicago’s medical center accused the institution of sharing patient records and violating privacy rights.

The lawsuit alleges UChicago provided patient records with identifiable information, violating HIPAA requirements that share patient information does not have identifiable information.

According to UChicago, the institution has complied with privacy laws.

“The claims in this lawsuit are without merit,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “The University of Chicago Medical Center has complied with the laws and regulations applicable to patient privacy.”

The lawsuit slams the actions of Google, accusing the tech giant of spending “the last decade attempting to gain a foothold in the trillion-dollar per year healthcare industry” and needing vast amounts of patient information in order to do so. Its efforts to obtain data were challenging until Google teamed up with UChicago.

“We believe our healthcare research could help save lives in the future, which is why we take privacy seriously and follow all relevant rules and regulations in our handling of health data,” a Google statement reads.

The lawsuit also argues the UChicago was more than willing to violate patient privacy in an effort for notoriety through a partnership with Google, arguing the institution “was happy to turn over the confidential, highly sensitive and HIPAA-protected records of every patient who walked through its doors between 2009 and 2016.”

“The Medical Center entered into a research partnership with Google as part of the Medical Center’s continuing efforts to improve the lives of its patients,” the UChicago statement reads. “That research partnership was appropriate and legal, and the claims asserted in this case are baseless and a disservice to the Medical Center’s fundamental mission of improving the lives of its patients.  The University and the Medical Center will vigorously defend this action in court."

The lawsuit further alleges an “egregious” cover up to “avoid public backlash.” However, UChicago maintains it informed patients of the partnership.