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Vanderbilt Medical Center Under Federal Scrutiny After Trans Patient Records Release

Vanderbilt Medical Center Under Federal Scrutiny After Trans Patient Records Release

A person entering medical records

A civil rights investigation is probing why the medical center released unredacted and sensitive medical records to the Republican attorney general.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center faces a federal civil rights investigation after releasing unredacted private medical records of transgender patients to Tennessee’s attorney general before notifying the patients.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services investigation comes weeks after two patients sued VUMC for releasing their records to Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti late last year.

“We have been contacted by and are working with the Office of Civil Rights,” a spokesperson for the medical center, John Howser, said in a statement Thursday evening, the Associated Press reports. “We have no further comment since this is an ongoing investigation.”

As a result of the hospital’s failure to inform patients that their health information had been shared last year, a lawsuit was filed against VUMC. The news has sparked alarm among LGBTQ+ families living in the GOP-controlled state, where legislators have tried to outlaw gender-affirming health care for transgender children.

According to transgender patients suing VUMC, the hospital should have removed confidential identifying details from its records before releasing them.

Skrmetti’s office obtained private medical information about many state workers, their spouses, and adult children. Many of those patients utilized the state’s Medicaid program called TennCare.

HHS did not immediately respond to an inquiry by the AP about the civil rights investigation.

Skrmetti requested VUMC patient records for a “run of the mill” investigation into possible medical billing fraud, he insisted.

His office denied to the wire service that it had been informed of the HHS investigation.

A spokesperson for the attorney general questioned the necessity of a probe.

She said, “Turning a disagreement about the law into a federal investigation would be plainly retaliatory and would reflect a dangerous politicization of federal law enforcement.”

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