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New York hospital faxes HIV status to patient's workplace mailroom

A man who wished to be unidentified and known only as "John Doe" was already dealing with an HIV positive diagnosis in 2014 when he discovered that Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital faxed his HIV status to his workplace potentially outing him to prying-eyed co-workers reports New York's Daily News.

“My most intimate and personal secrets were broadcast for anyone who happened to be walking by my office fax machine,” said the employee, who wished not to be named. “For years now, I have been struggling to cope with how my life was changed by the unbelievably careless act of the people who I trusted with my care.”

Doe, in his early 30s, filed a $2.5 million negligence suit against the Upper West side hospital for faxing those records inappropriately. 

The suit was filed on Friday which states that three years ago he asked that documents be sent to a post office box, instead they were faxed to his office.

The papers held personal information including his HIV status and were circulated around the mailroom according to the report, before landing into the hands of his supervisor.

He says he was mortified by the incident and on top of that was still trying to come to terms with his status.

His friends and family did not know about his diagnosis and at the time he wasn’t emotionally ready to tell them. He quit his job at the labor union for actors and stage managers.

“I simply could not stay with that company,” he said. “I was in a constant state of apprehension about whether or not a colleague or supervisor was looking at me differently because they knew about my diagnosis. The paranoia and anxiety was too much.”

Mount Sinai-St. Luke’s Hospital took responsibility for the mistake and paid a fine of $387,000 to the United States Department of Health and Human Services for the “breach” according to court documents, but they have yet to settle with the man they outed.

“It’s bad enough to be diagnosed with HIV, but to have his health records sent to his place of work for everyone to see compounds a very difficult situation,” said the man’s attorney Jeffrey Lichtman.“His family was not aware of his status and everyone at work was.”