Swanson v. Accretive Health (2012)

A hospital where healing comes from the wallet

A laptop containing data on over 23,000 patients of Fairview Health Services and North Memorial Health Care was stolen from the car of an employee of Accretive Health, a hospital revenue management company.  Accretive was engaged in debt collection from hospital patients.  Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit against Accretive alleging violations of state and federal health privacy laws.  The lawsuit alleged that Accretive failed to prevent, detect, contain and correct the theft of laptops that contained protected health information (PHI); failed to encrypt PHI on laptops; allowed employees to take laptops with PHI out of health care facilities; failed to limit access to PHI only to individuals who needed access to such information; failed to prevent employees from downloading PHI onto laptop computers and/or storage media without adequate safeguards and procedures; and failed to implement a business associate agreement as required by HIPAA.

The lawsuit was thereafter amended to allege that Accretive was responsible for aggressive collection practices in hospital emergency rooms by its employees and others acting under its management and control. Accretive prepared a document called the Accretive Secret Sauce or “ASS,” touting “You’ve never seen ASS like ours!” and “Check out our ASS!” 

Swanson said a main ingredient in the “Secret Sauce” was that emergency room patients were hustled with bedside collection visits. Swanson also alleged Accretive overbilled patients using its proprietary software program, known as A2A.

The lawsuit is believed to be the one of the first filed by a state attorney general under powers given to states by the HITECH Act.

Under the settlement agreement, Accretive was banned from doing business in the state of Minnesota. It also paid a $2.5 million to the State of Minnesota.  The agreement also required Accretive to return to its client hospitals all data in its possession about Minnesota patients.

Minnesota v. Accretive Health (2012) District Ct. Minnesota Case File No. 12-145 RHK/JJK July 30, 2012

Amended Complaint: http://workplaceprivacyreport.lexblogplatformthree.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/162/2012/06/Accretive21.pdf

Memorandum of Law by State to Amend Complaint: Download Below.

Memorandum in Support of Amending Complaint: Download Below.

Memorandum in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss: Download Below.

Settlement Agreement and Order: