Did a major hospital expose medical records to Google?

Did a major hospital expose medical records to Google?

Last week, The University of Chicago Medical Center and Google had a class action lawsuit filed against them. The suit contends that when the Medical Center entered into a partnership with Google it allegedly exposed hundreds of thousands of medical records to the search giant. At the heart of the lawsuit is the allegation that the medical records provided to Google contained identifiable patient information which violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA as it’s better known.

According to reports, The University of Chicago Medical Center entered into this partnership with Google in order to assist with Google’s artificial intelligence researchers. The researchers are looking for a way to help doctors better diagnose patients with the help of AI. The medical records provided to Google were said to be stripped of all identifiable information which is permitted under HIPAA. However, the lawsuit claims that the dates of service the patients were seen at the medical center were contained within the medical records. The law firm that has filed the suit states that Google could easily identify a patient with just the dates they were seen because of their knowledge of their users’ search histories.

So is this a legitimate concern or is this a frivolous lawsuit filed by a paranoid patient? While theoretically, it could be possible for Google to determine a patient’s identity through the records received and their own resources it doesn’t make sense for them to do so. Google has an incalculable number of users and many of them don’t even sign into Google when using the service for search. It also makes no financial sense as Google would not only be open to lawsuits like this but the wrath of the government as well. HIPAA violators tend to be fined very heavily and right now, the government and Google aren’t exactly on the best of terms. So until there is better evidence that Google acted maliciously, it appears that your medical records are currently safe.