BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A woman was charged Thursday with stealing 4,500 patients' medical records from Trinity Medical Center, possibly with the intent of using them for identity theft.
Chelsea Catherine Stewart, 26, was arrested Thursday morning by U.S. Postal inspectors, who said they found hundreds of pages with names, birth dates and Social Security numbers at a house in Alabaster where Stewart was staying. The files spanned several years, including before 2006, when Trinity was still Montclair Baptist
Stewart was charged Thursday with violating the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the privacy of medical records, and released on an unsecured bond of $5,000. She has not been indicted and did not have to enter a plea. She may face additional charges, said her court-appointed attorney, Scott Brower.
According to the charging document, Stewart said she had taken the records from the hospital when visiting a patient there between March 22 and April 1. Albaster police found the paperwork April 8 at a house where Stewart was staying, postal inspector John Bailey said in an affidavit.
MIAOULIS NOTE: This will be interesting to watch, if the indictment moves forward this appears to expand HIPAA beyond healthcare workers to the general populations. This may be the first time a non-healthcare worker was arrested for HIPAA. I am not an Attorney or prosecutor, so I will be watching.