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Did Senate Candidate Stolle Dunnavant (VA-12) Violate HIPAA with Campaign Letter to Patients?

I received a copy of a letter Dr. Siobhan Stolle Dunnavant sent to her patients concerning her campaign for Virginia Senate in the 12th District. The picture below is a bit small to read, but a PDF version is available by clicking this link.


It would appear that Dunnavant has accessed her patient files and sent a letter telling them she is running for Senate and what to expect during the legislative session should she win the seat.

And then the letter goes on to solicit help and volunteers for her campaign along with the campaign website.

At the very end of the letter, we are told that the letter was paid for and authorized by “Friends of Siobhan Dunnavent” which is her campaign.

There was also the following attached to the information I received:


Obviously, the person receiving the letter was not happy that their personal information has been divulged to the campaign.

According to the Health and Human Services website:

What Information is Protected

Protected Health Information. The Privacy Rule protects all “individually identifiable health information” held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information “protected health information (PHI).”12

“Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to:

  • the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition,
  • the provision of health care to the individual, or
  • the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual,

and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual.13Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number). 

The Privacy Rule excludes from protected health information employment records that a covered entity maintains in its capacity as an employer and education and certain other records subject to, or defined in, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. §1232g.

De-Identified Health Information. There are no restrictions on the use or disclosure of de-identified health information.14 De-identified health information neither identifies nor provides a reasonable basis to identify an individual. There are two ways to de-identify information; either: (1) a formal determination by a qualified statistician; or (2) the removal of specified identifiers of the individual and of the individual’s relatives, household members, and employers is required, and is adequate only if the covered entity has no actual knowledge that the remaining information could be used to identify the individual.15

Now I am not an expert in HIPAA laws but it would appear to me that Dr. Dunnavant has given private information including name and addresses of her patients. Which, according to the quoted text above individually identifies patients in violation of their privacy.

Now I wouldn’t think that a letter telling patients what to expect should their doctor be elected to office would be inappropriate if it came directly from the doctor and not the campaign. But at least one of her patients is not happy about having their personal information released to a political campaign.

Dr. Dunnavant has some explaining and some apologies to do. And if this does, indeed, constitute a breach of the HIPAA laws, there may be a lot more than explaining required.

At the very least this is a lapse in judgement for a medical professional to hand over her patient database to a political campaign. Personally, if my doctor did this I would find another doctor.

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

10 Responses to “Did Senate Candidate Stolle Dunnavant (VA-12) Violate HIPAA with Campaign Letter to Patients?”

  1. Karla Fitzpatrick says:

    Dr. Stolle- Dunnavant is completely disingenuous when she claims “I am not a Politician – I am a Doctor.”

    The Stolle Family is an entrenched Republican Party machine in Va Beach- it’s the Family Business- and if elected, Stolle- Dunnavant can be expected to follow in the Family’s Dynasty of Lobbyists and strict Party loyalty to the Republican leadership. Look no further than the endorsement and large donation to her campaign by the Medical Society of Virginia lobby.

    Virginians should not send this political operative to the state senate- There’s a reason they call her “The Princess.”

  2. Cami Hartmann says:

    This is despicable behavior by a health care professional. To access patient data bases in a medical practice to solicit donations and campaign volunteers and support for a campaign should be illegal. Oh yes- let’s elect a doctor to the State Senate and see how far that piece of legislation gets in the General Assembly- especially one endorsed by the Medical Society of Virginia who will lawyer up and LOBBY to protect one of their own.

    Dr. Dunnavant should be immediately fired from any hospital boards and committees and an investigation should be initiated by the Henrico County Commonwealth’s Attorney ( a Democrat thanks to candidate Bill Janis) into her violation of HIPPA laws.

    As a patient of Henrico Doctor’s Hospital, I am appalled at this type of action by a member of their medical staff-
    clearly nonmedical campaign staff now has the names and addresses and personal information for thousands of patients.

    “Rules are for people who need them?”

  3. Ron Hedlund

    I have tried to contact her CM, Chad Cole, to give him a heads up on this post. If this is a setup of her campaign, it needs to be disavowed immediately.

    If it truly was an oversight by him, he needs to correct the matter immediately. If it truly came from her, I would think Chad got legal counsel for this before doing this letter. I would address it immediately if it is legal and ethical.

  4. Ron Melancon says:

    Yes…she is in violation…but will the powerful GOP old boy network send the police knocking on our doors telling us to be quiet?

    The powerful GOP in Henrico will not like us very much if we send this to Fox news.

  5. Ron Melancon says:

    Send this to FOX news…because the local media will not cover this.

  6. Chad Cole says:

    We are familiar with this inquiry and we are comfortable with our actions taken to ensure that the communication in question was appropriate and in line with all applicable guidelines. In response to concerns that she might be leaving the practice to pursue office, Dr. Dunnavant reached out to the practice’s patients to inform them of steps she was taking to ensure continuity of care. She felt it was important that patients understand she would remain with the practice, and that she would still be available to provide care. Dr. Dunnavant discussed the matter with both her practice and legal counsel and no violation of patient privacy took place.

    -Chad Cole, Campaign Manager

  7. Vic Nicholls says:

    What about her non response to the drug trafficking doctor in this state that is supposed to, by federal law, be awaiting sentancing in jail rather than practicing? No one got notified I bet by the hospital employing them.

    Dr./Sen. Dunnavant knows. Why the silence?


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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