ITEMS FROM ACROSS THE TRIAD AND BEYOND | BY JORDANGREEN
DENTIST NOTIFIES PATIENTS OF INFORMATION BREACH DURINGPOLITICAL CAMPAIGN
Dr. Bruce Peller, a dentist in Winston- Salem who was an unsuccessful candidate for US Congress, said he has sent out notifications to 10,000 patients advising them of a breach of patient health information.
Peller lost the Democratic primary for the 5th Congressional District to Elisabeth Motsinger in May. Motsinger faces Republican incumbent Virginia Foxx in November.
Peller fired political consultant Chris Church before the primary after questions arose about the consultant’s role in a coordinated electioneering effort that involved illegal campaigning at an early-voting location and deceptive statements to voters. Peller said he was uncomfortable with the tactics, and also accused Church of embezzling from the campaign and taking private patient information.
“He copied lists of my patients,” Peller said. “My assistant saw him uploading list to his iCloud from a computer at my office. The inescapable conclusion is that they were names and possibly phone numbers and dates of birth of patients.”
A press release sent out by Peller indicates that Church created a list of patient names, addresses and phone numbers, and also accessed patient information numbers, dates of birth, treatment dates and in some cases e- mail addresses.
Jerry Jordan, a lawyer who represents Church, said he and his client “absolutely deny that Mr. Church accessed Peller’s computers at all. It didn’t happen.”
Jordan said that, in fact, Peller e-mailed the patient information to Church in two spreadsheets.
“I don’t think there’s an e-mail trail that could have possibly existed and if there was he would have just sent it from my computer so it would have looked like it came from me,” Peller said. “The interesting thing is when I fired him I actually asked him to return my property, so he shouldn’t have it under any circumstances.”
Peller said he has filed suit against Church to recover the patient information. Jordan said his client would have no trouble returning the information.
“Peller’s covering his ass because it’s clear that he screwed up,” Jordan said. “It’s a clear violation of the [Health Information Portability and Accountability Act], and he knows he’s on the hook for God knows how much money. Each disclosure is a violation of HIPAA law. It could cause him to be fined thousands and thousands of dollars. I think the Board of Dental Examiners ought to look into it.”
Peller said a hearing has been scheduled for July 9.
“I’ll be asking the judge for permission to access all of his electronic storage media,” Peller said. “What I’ll be trying to do forensically is ensure that he’s not trying to retain the information.”
Early voting is open for second primary Few voters are likely aware that there’s a second primary election scheduled for July 17. The lack of awareness about second primaries generally results in low turnout, meaning that those who do show up at the polls tend to have an outsized influence and outcomes tend to be unpredictable. Second primaries, also known as run-off elections, are held when the top vote-getter fails to obtain more than 40 percent of the vote and the second-place finisher requests a rematch.
This year, there are a number of Republican races that will be settled with a runoff. Republican voters across the state will have the opportunity to choose between Dan Forest and Tony Gurley for for lieutenant governor, Richard Morgan and Mike Causey for NC commissioner of insurance; Kenn Gardner and Ed Goodwin for NC secretary of state, and John Tedesco and Richard Alexander for NC superintendent of public instruction. Republican voters in the new Guilford County Commission District 6 will have the opportunity to choose between Hank Henning and Jeremy R. Williams.
Democratic voters in Forsyth and Guilford counties, in contrast, have only one runoff: the contest between Marlowe Foster and John C. Brooks for NC commissioner of labor.
Early voting is open in Guilford and Forsyth counties on Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Old Courthouse, located at 301 W. Market St. in Greensboro, at the High Point Elections Office, located at 325 E. Russell Ave., and at the Forsyth County Government Center, located at 201 N. Chestnut St. in Winston-Salem. Additional early-voting
times at all three locations include July 9 through July 13 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and July 14 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. You must vote in the county where you are registered.