IT’S A SHAME THAT OUR LEAD STORY IN THIS ISSUE IS CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS of six former IMPATH executives. It is a black mark on the lab industry and is just one more factor that makes it tougher for honest laboratorians to successfully lobby Congress on adequate funding for laboratory testing services.
Our follow-up story to crime at IMPATH is news of the just-announced sale of Esoterix, Inc. to Laboratory Corporation of America. It’s another example of further consolidation within the laboratory industry. When Esoterix is bought by LabCorp sometime in the next ten weeks, it will remove another independent competitor from the national lab services marketplace.
Once you get past those two stories, you will find a detailed interview with Eric Drew. He’s the cancer patient, near death, whose identity was ripped off by a phlebotomist in the hospital where he was being treated. Discovery of the crime launched Drew into an extraordinary investigation which culminated in the conviction of this nefarious lab worker under the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) statute. It was the first-ever federal conviction of a HIPAA crime.
Drew’s story is exclusive to THE DARK REPORT. We have extensively researched these events for an important reason: lab managers and pathologists need to know how vulnerable their laboratory or pathology group practice is to the crime of patient identity theft. During the course of his interview with THE DARK REPORT, Drew explains, for the first time, many new details of how his identity was stolen. He also discusses the “do nothing” attitude of the hospital’s privacy and compliance people when he first alerted them to the crime and requested their help to identify the perpetrator and bring him to justice.
I was shocked when I read Eric Drew’s story. I believe the majority of you will also be shocked. I use the word “shock” deliberately. From the hospital to the police, the system failed Eric Drew—utterly and totally. My common sense tells me that the majority of labs and pathology group practices would do the right thing were a patient to show up and declare his/her identity was stolen and he/she has good reason to believe it occurred in the lab. But then again, do you have equal confidence that the privacy officer in your lab would acknowledge the possibility of a crime and support this patient in the search for truth—regardless of where it may lead your laboratory?