The Minnesota Attorney General's office has filed a lawsuit against debt collection agency Accretive Health for failing to protect hospital patients' confidentiality and not disclosing its full role in hospital care to patients.
The lawsuit says that the company put some of its employees in hospital emergency rooms and looked to demand payment of past bills before any new treatment was given.
Employees also allegedly used patient health records to push for the collection of overdue accounts regardless of credit card debt or other needs patients had. Those overly aggressive debt relief methods might be a violation of privacy laws.
"The debt collector found a way to essentially monetize portions of the revenue and health care delivery systems of some nonprofit hospitals for Wall Street investors, without the knowledge or consent of patients who have the right to know how their information is being used and to have it kept confidential," said Attorney General Lori Swanson.
After the release of the data by the Minnesota AGs office, the New York Times reported that Accretive had contracts with some of the largest hospitals in the country, meaning the issues may be widespread.