Johns Hopkins is investigating whether patient privacy was compromised by a former gynecologist who was found dead on Monday. Nikita A. Levy, according to the Baltimore Sun, has been accused of recording and saving images of patients with personal photo and video equipment. Baltimore police found what they termed an “extraordinary” volume of evidence at his home.
Though Johns Hopkins hadn’t told patients of the investigation before yesterday, spokeswoman Kim Hoppe told the Sun that potentially-affected patients would be sent a letter on Tuesday. Levy was apparently terminated on Feb. 8 after Johns Hopkins learned of the allegations.
“Any invasion of patient privacy is intolerable,” Hoppe said to the Sun. “Words cannot express how deeply sorry we are for every patient whose privacy may have been violated.” She also said the violation of conduct and privacy policies was “against everything for which Johns Hopkins Medicine stands.”
The specifics of who may have been affected, how many patients, the time period and to what degree HIPAA rights were encroached upon has yet to be released. And Levy hasn’t been formally charged with any crimes to this point. Baltimore police are encouraging patients to come forward as they learn more about the case, and for the moment the medical system is offering counseling to his patients.
In focusing on the HIPAA privacy regulations, what exactly Levy was doing with the patient data will be of note. It seems as though Johns Hopkins is handling the situation as best it can, but a patient privacy breach at such a large hospital, despite the odd nature of the case, is obviously a big deal and should be watched carefully.
Update: According to baltimore.cbslocal.com, more than 300 patients have called the Baltimore police hotline over concerns gynecologist Nikita Levy secretly videotaped them inside exam rooms at Johns Hopkins East Baltimore Medical Center.