Q: Charges for Using Discarded Medical Info for ID Theft
This is a weird one. What charges could someone face for using medical (biohazard) trash/waste to obtain info for Identity Theft?
A: There not enough information to intelligently answer the question. If you mean some sort of label that contained information about the patient, this would not really differ from any other kind of identity theft. It would likely be best to contact an attorney directly to discuss your specific issues.
A: An Identity Theft related crime could be charged regardless of the source of the information. But perhaps there are unusual, more specific criminal statutes relating to invasion of (medical) privacy that could come into play. More info would be needed to sort that out.
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Tampering with medical/biohazard waste can engender both civil and criminal penalties, but the penalties vary substantially depending on the context, who the offender was (i.e., a medical employee, company), where it took place, and what the violation was. There are, however, various Federal medical waste laws and patient health information ("PHI") protection laws that are uniformly applied across all 50 states—namely, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, and The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. HIPAA deals with patient confidentiality and protected health information, whereas the latter two deal primarily with prevention and exposure.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is probably the Federal statute that is probably most relevant to your question. You may have heard of HIPAA—it is the set of federal guidelines that ensure that every patient's health information remains protected and confidential from the public. Meaning, anyone else who is not involved in the provision of a patient's care should not have access to their medical information. Within the HIPAA statute is a distinct provision called "The HIPAA Privacy Rule," ("HIPAA Rule") and it is specific to the handling of medical waste containing protected patient information ("PHI")—i.e., hospital wristbands, lab work, billing history, or anything that could be used to potentially identify someone from disposed medical waste. Specifically, the HIPAA Rule requires that all medical facilities adopt and apply policies to maintain confidentiality of protected health information (PHI), including through final disposition. These policies apply to everyone who works in a medical facility or who otherwise has access to patient information (i.e.,doctors, nurses, technicians, lab technicians, administrative employees, janitors—literally anyone who has access to patient health information. To this end, if someone steals patient information from biohazards bin or other medical waste portals, they can face up to $50,000 for *each* violation and jail/prison time.
The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act, which like the name suggests, is a set of laws governing the classification, handling, and packaging of hazardous waste. This is a Federal statute, meaning it is applicable in every single state. In other words, if a person or a company generates any amount of medical waste, they must follow strict guidelines to properly dispose of it. If they do not, and contaminated or hazardous waste spills out into the environment or an innocent party is exposed to contaminated waste, the party responsible for the contamination can face up to $75,000 for each *day* of the violation and up to ten years in jail. If an innocent party suffers serious injury or death due to tampering with biohazards waste, the fine can skyrocket even higher.
The Bloodborne Pathogen Standard is a subsidiary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (or "OSHA"). It too is a Federal statute that emphasizes prevention of exposure to blood-borne pathogens (i.e. deadly viruses, bacteria, parasites, etc.). This purpose of this statute is preventing contaminated needles, vials, etc from coming into contact with another person. Violations, or even just sloppy compliance, can result in hefty penalties, such as jail time (up to 6 months) and fines (up to $75,000 per day). While this is a Federal statute, every jurisdiction has an "OSHA Director" who sets the penalties for medical workers who violate its provisions within its' geographical limits. The penalties are at the discretion of the OSHA director; if you have a concern about a medical employee tampering with medical waste or generating occupational safety hazards, it might be wise to report it to the OSHA Director in your jurisdiction.
Susanne Eltamimi agrees with this answer
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