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Exclusive: Va Senate Candidate Siobhan Dunnavant Under Federal HHS Investigation

Updated: I am being accused in a comment of lying when I say Dunnavant is under a Federal HHS Investigation. So for the benefit of all that need proof, on the day I posted this article, I received the letter in the mail that is posted below at the bottom of this post. It is important to understand that I believe it is against the law to divulge patient information. And I checked with numerous health care professionals who also believed that this is a breach of law. Dunnavant is certainly obligated to inform her patients that there may be changes in her practice should she become a State Senator. That is not a problem. What I questioned is the fact that the letter was not sent by the doctor, but by her campaign. And it was paid for by her campaign according to the letter.  (Click this link to see the letter.) So I sent the letter in to the Department of Health and Human Services. They looked at the letter she sent that I forwarded to them and reviewed the allegations and as a result, they have opened an investigation.

And as to the person that left the comment accusing me of being a Democrat, it is my firm belief that one of the reasons people dislike Republicans so much is that the Republicans hold themselves to a different standard. The atmosphere in the Party is such that a Republican can do whatever they want and the Zombies will follow the “R” over a cliff to avoid criticism of one of their own. This sets up an atmosphere of corruption that supports any and all actions, legal or not, because of the “R”.

I simply demand better of our candidates and elected officials. And I am willing and able to point out bad behavior with a blind eye to party. Someone has to hold them accountable. And the 4th estate seems pretty lonely sometimes, and there is plenty of available real estate. Being a good Republican does not mean you never criticize wrong doing by your party. It means quite the opposite. Tom White

Three and a half months ago, in June 2015 I filed a complaint against Virginia State Senate Candidate Siobhan Dunnavant for what I believe was a violation of patient privacy laws. It seems the good doctor used her patient database to send a letter advising her patients of her candidacy for the Va Senate and what they could expect should she win, and during the campaign.

I am no expert, but had she stopped there, I believe no laws would have been broken. But the letter I received that came from one of her patients went much further. In June I wrote:

During the recent Republican Primary campaign for the Republican nomination for State Senator in the 12th Senatorial District, some disturbing actions were taken by one of the contenders, Dr. Siobhan Stolle Dunnavant.

I received a letter sent by Dunnavant’s campaign to her patient list. The letter explained what her patients could expect as far as medical services should she win the primary and the general election. And that much, in my opinion, was both proper and professional.

However, the letter goes on to solicit campaign volunteers and yard sign placement in her patients yards, which is not medical at all. And the kicker for me and numerous health care professionals I have spoken with was that the letter was paid for and sent by Dr. Dunnavant’s campaign.

The numerous health care professionals I spoke with all said that this is a HIPAA violation. Name and address are personal identifiers and the campaign letter was addressed to her patient list.

So I felt it my duty to file a complaint as I believe this letter crossed the line of what is allowed.

As I said, I am no expert. But today I received a letter from the Department of Health and Human Services Regional Manager Barbara Holland stating:

“We have carefully reviewed your allegation and are initiating an investigation to determine if there has been a failure to comply with the requirements of the applicable regulation.”

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is the investigating body.

They are investigation whether or not Dunnavant has violated the Federal Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information. Specifically, my allegations are that she provided information to her campaign for the purpose of soliciting contributions, volunteers and votes. I should note that the letter to Dr. Dunnavant’s patients stated that it was paid for by her Campaign.

It was specifically my intent to get this matter cleared early, but the wheels of justice turn slowly. But it is my intent to hold politicians and candidates to a high standard. And I believe Siobhan Dunnavant did not measure up to these standards by using her patient database for political purposes.

Letter from HHS:

 

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.

15 Responses to “Exclusive: Va Senate Candidate Siobhan Dunnavant Under Federal HHS Investigation”

  1. P. Kramers says:

    Republican candidate for State Senate in the 12th Dr. Stolle- Dunnivant was elected by Democrats- women PATIENTS from her OB- GYN practice who received her letter in their mailbox asking for donations and volunteers and votes ( Violation of HIPAA) and voted for her in the Republican Primary. They showed up at the polls and told election officers they didn’t know it was a Republican Primary- they were there to “Vote for their doctor.”

    Laws don’t apply to her? Win at all costs? And the good Republican voters of Henrico County are going to send her to the General Assembly?

    She’s as bad as Hillary Clinton. Well Almost.

    • George Riley says:

      Expect for the fact that she didn’t break any laws. A HIPPA violation is sharing a patients diagnosis information with someone else without their permission or attaching personal information to diagnosis material. SO unless all of those letters had peoples diagnosis information on them it isn’t a violation. Also, I am confident she ran those by her lawyer before sending them out. This is just Tom White spewing lies again. Also, just because the letter says paid for by her campaign doesn’t mean the peoples information was shared with her campaign it just means that it was funded by her money and not the communal money of the practice. Seeing as Tom White is a man I assume he doesn’t go to the OB-GYN so how can he file a complaint against Dr. D. Do y’all even verify the information you read on the internet. At least Hillary Clinton can tell when she is being lied to. My 5 year old daughter isn’t even as gullible as you.

      • Tom White says:

        George, again you do not know what you are talking about. You called me a liar and said she was not under investigation. I proved you wrong. And you can ask anyone familiar with HIPAA, NAME and ADDRESS are Personal Identifiers. Not just a diagnosis. Just leaving a file in view with only a patient’s name on it is a violation. Why, you might ask?

        Well, what if a man IS a patient of Dunnavant? That would be unusual, but what if they were transgendered and had problems with the female bits? Just knowing a supposed man is an OB/GYN patient gives a lot of information. Personal information.

        The head of Virginia’s Health Department Marissa Levine was born a man. What if “her” name was used in a campaign letter from a Proctologist? Would campaign workers stuffing envelopes figure it out?

        What about an oncologist? If someone was running for office and it becomes known that they have cancer?

        The law is the law, George. I do my research, my due diligence and I interviewed several members of the health care community who deal with this every day. The first thing that they all say word for word that is driven into them in school and certification classes and ongoing training is “Name and Address are personal identifiers”. Ask a nurse or a health care administrator.

        And I am not qualified to make a determination as to whether she broke a law or not. Only HHS can do that. If a diagnosis were required as you erroneously claim, the letter from HHS would have told me they had no issues with this letter and informed me they would not be investigating. That isn’t what happened. They opened an investigation.

        So, George, you obviously do not know the law in this case and you are blindly partisan and do not care who represents you as long as they have an “R” after their name. Me, I intend to hold elected officials to a highe standard of conduct and I will question every sketchy action these people do, regardless of their party.

        I would suggest you do some research into what is personally identifiable information. It is NOT just a diagnosis. You can start with this list:

        HIPAA PHI: List of 18 Identifiers and Definition of PHI
        List of 18 Identifiers

        1. Names;
        2. All geographical subdivisions smaller than a State, including street address, city, county, precinct, zip code, and their equivalent geocodes, except for the initial three digits of a zip code, if according to the current publicly available data from the Bureau of the Census: (1) The geographic unit formed by combining all zip codes with the same three initial digits contains more than 20,000 people; and (2) The initial three digits of a zip code for all such geographic units containing 20,000 or fewer people is changed to 000.
        3. All elements of dates (except year) for dates directly related to an individual, including birth date, admission date, discharge date, date of death; and all ages over 89 and all elements of dates (including year) indicative of such age, except that such ages and elements may be aggregated into a single category of age 90 or older;
        4. Phone numbers;
        5. Fax numbers;
        6. Electronic mail addresses;
        7. Social Security numbers;
        8. Medical record numbers;
        9. Health plan beneficiary numbers;
        10. Account numbers;
        11. Certificate/license numbers;
        12. Vehicle identifiers and serial numbers, including license plate numbers;
        13. Device identifiers and serial numbers;
        14. Web Universal Resource Locators (URLs);
        15. Internet Protocol (IP) address numbers;
        16. Biometric identifiers, including finger and voice prints;
        17. Full face photographic images and any comparable images; and
        18. Any other unique identifying number, characteristic, or code (note this does not mean the unique code assigned by the investigator to code the data)

        There are also additional standards and criteria to protect individual’s privacy from re-identification. Any code used to replace the identifiers in datasets cannot be derived from any information related to the individual and the master codes, nor can the method to derive the codes be disclosed. For example, a subject’s initials cannot be used to code their data because the initials are derived from their name. Additionally, the researcher must not have actual knowledge that the research subject could be re-identified from the remaining identifiers in the PHI used in the research study. In other words, the information would still be considered identifiable is there was a way to identify the individual even though all of the 18 identifiers were removed.
        Tom White recently posted…Forum: What Did You Think Of The Democrat’s Debate?My Profile

  2. M. Peters says:

    Thank you for bringing this behavior to light. I am tired of scofflaws running for office.

    • L. Joyce says:

      I would like to second M. Peters. With Dunnivant under federal investigation, I find it prudent to consider Debbie Repp, a moderate former policy director who crossed party lines to reform welfare and create jobs. She cares about economic productivity, as a small business owner herself, who created over 150 jobs in Henrico. She supports eliminating the BPOL tax as well as the corporate income tax, and as of now I will be supporting her on election day.

  3. George Riley says:

    This is just down right slander. It is a well known fact that the letter was simply informing her patients that she would be running for Senate and if she is to be elected that she would not be able to practice for 2 months out of the year. Something she is supposed to notify them of and did. She is not under investigation and if I were her I would sue you Mr. White because it seems as if you are one of the conservatives that weakens our party. Why would you try to weaken a republicans campaign? Are you secretly a democrat? Perhaps you should be posting on Virginia Left instead. Mudslinging is not a proper for of campaigning. This post is despicable and for all of you who just believed this you should check into your sources, specifically the fact that this article has no sources to prove a federal investigation let alone any sources at all. Also, just because someone is a woman and goes to the OB-GYN doesn\’t make them a democrat and even if they are it was a primary and here in Virginia we have open primaries where anyone can vote. This article is full of lies and slander and just because you are afraid of a powerful woman Tom White doesn\’t mean the rest of us are.

    • Tom White says:

      George. First and foremost, slander is only for spoken words. Written words could be libelous, but this post is absolutely not libelous. In order for it to be libel it must be false. And because of your comment here, I have added a comment to the post and also posted the letter I received from Health and Human Services. And there is nothing wrong with Dunnavant informing her patients of possible changes in her status as a doctor and privately and in confidence. However, where I believe Dunnavant may have stepped over the line in the fact that the letter was sent from her campaign, not her practice. Name and address are considered covered personal information in the privacy laws protecting patients. But this letter was sent by her campaign and solicited for the campaign. I questioned the legality of such a letter and sent the information in to the Department of HHS. As the letter states, they reviewed the complaint and have deemed it necessary to investigate the incident. Now this does not mean that she has been convicted of anything, only that HHS is investigating. So we must wait and see what HHS determines. Obviously, the fact that they are investigating is an indication that there is a problem with the letter.

      So, George, yes she is under investigation according to the letter I received from HHS.

      So the only libel I can see is your assertion that I am lying. Just because I did not post a source (and now I have) does not make my statement that Dunnavant is under investigation a lie. Perhaps you should start by asking if I had proof of my statement rather than call me a liar.

      And as to your claims I am a Democrat because I question actions by a Republican (or a woman) I suggest that although you may be willing to ignore potential issues with an elected official or candidate because of their party affiliation, I am not.

      But for now, you may start by apologizing to me for calling me a liar.
      Tom White recently posted…Forum: What Did You Think Of The Democrat’s Debate?My Profile

    • Johnny says:

      George is 100% wrong and Tom is 100% right. I\’ve been working for 12 years under HIPAA law at a CHAP accredited organization. Tom\’s list of PHI is right on the money.

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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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