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  • Whistleblower: Why Do Phoenix VA Employees Keep Accessing My Medical Records?

    Employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility in Phoenix have accessed whistleblower Brandon Coleman’s records for a third time, continuing a long campaign of what Coleman considers harassment for speaking publicly to the media.

    This most recent incident might otherwise be labeled a routine, administrative procedure in the course of medical treatment, were it not for the fact that Coleman hasn’t received care from the facility in Phoenix since the beginning of January. At that point in time, Coleman obtained eye glasses as a disabled veteran.

    In mid-August, Coleman requested a third SPAR report, a document which shows a list of employees who have accessed a patient’s records. What Coleman noted is that while it makes complete sense for employees from Tucson to view his medical records, as he received exams for hearing loss, what doesn’t make sense is for employees at Phoenix to poke around.

    “I honestly again have no idea why anyone from Phoenix would be in my records,” Coleman said.

    The report indicates that Troy Briggs, an administrative officer for mental health employees at Phoenix, accessed his records twice, once on April 20 and a second time on April 22.

    Coleman says Briggs was often copied on emails sent from facility director Glen Grippen to him over the past eight months. The timing of Brigg’s access is also notable. In one case, Briggs accessed the records April 20—the same day that Grippen sent a memorandum to Coleman instructing him not to talk with any other facility employees while on administrative absence. Coleman considers the memorandum a gag order.

    Dr. Nanette Auriemma, a physician at Phoenix, also accessed his records three times on April 22, but that was when Coleman was home on administrative leave and not receiving treatment.

    In another previous incident, Phoenix VA social worker Penny Miller accessed Coleman’s medical records, and in response, the facility stated that it had conducted an investigation and determined that it was little more than an innocent mistake. Coleman wasn’t convinced and tried to contact the VA Privacy Office, but he was turned back and told to discuss the issue of the alleged violation of patient privacy with the Phoenix VA facility.

    Miller has a past history of similar behavior, having also accessed the records of Lisa Tadano, another whistleblower at the hospital, yet Miller had no connection to Tadano’s cancer treatment in 2014. Coleman was Tadano’s former therapist. (RELATED: Most Recent Phoenix VA Whistleblower Suffers Retaliation After Filing Claim)

    “This whistleblower retaliation has to stop,” Coleman said. “I should not have to get to the point where I am forced to seal my medical records at the Phoenix VA. If I am not getting care at the Phoenix VA why does my record continue to be very popular?”
    Phoenix VA did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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