One-Year Prison Sentence for TermPatient Care Coordinator Following HIPAA Violation

A former patient care coordinator based at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has been given a one-year prisons sentence for accessing the medical records of patients and using that information to cause malicious damage.

Sue Kalina, 62, of Butler, PA, had previously been employed at UPMC Tri Rivers Musculoskeletal and Allegheny Health Network as a patient care coordinator. On March 30, 2016, while a staff member with UPMC, Kalina first began accessing patients’ medical records without permission. She went on doing so until June 15, 2017.

Kalina logged onto the records of friends, old classmates, and people that she had a grievance with. She used data from the medical records in a campaign of vengeance against her previous employer, Frank J. Zottola Construction.

Kalina had been working as the firm as office manager for 24 years before losing the position and being replaced by a younger female. Kalina logged onto that woman’s medical records and shared gynecological information about the woman to the Zottola controller in June 2017. Kalina also left a voicemail message in which the medical information of the new office manager and one other Zottola employee was shared.

Zottola advised UPMC of this and Kalina was fired. She was later employed by Allegheny Health Network where she is alleged to have begun accessing patient records without authorization. Overall, Kalina accessed the records of 111 patients without authorization.

Kalina admitted for her actions but claimed she was going through a stressful time in her life and had health issues. She also claimed she was not aware she was breaking the law and thought she was not forbidden from looking at patient files. Kalina and her legal representatives were seeking probation due to Kalina’s ongoing family commitments.

Prosecutors said that Kalina had been provided with HIPAA training and was aware that she was breaking the law and to say that she was unaware of HIPAA that was ‘a complete farce.” The U.S. attorney’s office sought a jail term of between six and twelve months.

U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab gave her a jail term at the top end of that scale as the crime was very ‘egregious.’ Kalina was sentenced to one year in jail followed by 3 years of probation. During that time Kalina is not allowed to have any contact with any of the 111 victims.

Author: Maria Perez