Clinic discloses client information when trying to collect a debt

Settled case summary #27

Complaint

An individual complained that her dental clinic disclosed information about her overdue account to the person who had referred her to the clinic.

Outcome

The complainant noted that she had been in hospital and in respite care for several months, and thus did not receive the invoices sent by the dental clinic.  When the invoices remained unpaid, the clinic telephoned the client who had made the referral in order to determine the complainant’s whereabouts.  The clinic confirmed that it had not only asked the client how it could reach the complainant, but it had also disclosed that her bill was overdue, the amount owing, and that it would be sent to collections unless paid. 

The clinic acknowledged that the disclosures went against its privacy policy, and that it should only have requested contact information.  In the course of investigating the complaint, the clinic and the complainant agreed to a monetary settlement which also included a letter of apology to the complainant.

The OPC and the complainant agreed that in light of the settlement the matter should be considered settled.

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