Former hospital employees plead guilty in conspiracy to sell car crash patients' info to injury attorneys, chiropractors

Five former hospital workers pled guilty to selling protected patient information that would eventually be used by personal injury attorneys, chiropractors and others seeking to solicit recently injured patients, according to court documents and a release from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The five were employed by Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, largely in financial department roles, and worked with an “entrepreneur” co-conspirator, Roderick Harvey, 41, who has also pled guilty, according to the DOJ.

The former employees provided the information to Harvey to resell “beginning sometime in or before November 2017, and continuing until at least in or about January 2020” in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the DOJ wrote in an indictment filed last November.  

“HIPAA’s provisions make it a crime to disclose patient information, or to obtain patient information with the intent to sell, transfer or use such information for personal gain,” the DOJ said in a Tuesday release.

The former employees passed along “approximately” 90 Methodist patients’ personally identifiable information, according to the indictment. The information included the names and phone numbers of patients who had been involved in car accidents, the DOJ said.

Kirby Dandridge, 38, Sylvia Taylor, 43, Kara Thompson, 31, Melanie Russell, 41, and Adrianna Taber, 26, have each entered guilty pleas for disclosing the HIPAA-protected information to Harvey and are set for sentencing between April 25 and June 21, the DOJ said. Each violation carries a maximum penalty of one-year imprisonment, a $50,000 fine and one year of supervised release, the DOJ said.

Harvey, meanwhile, is to be sentenced Aug. 1 and faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release, per the DOJ.

The indictment referenced evidence that showed Harvey paid the other conspirators anywhere from $200 to $1,000 for the patients’ information without their consent.

The guilty pleas were announced by Kevin Ritz, U.S. attorney and chief federal law enforcement officer in the Western District of Tennessee. The case was investigated by the FBI and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare is an integrated, six-hospital system based in Memphis. None of the five former employees were working at the organization past 2020, according to court documents.

"We expect our associates to uphold the highest integrity and moral compass, and require all employees to complete HIPAA privacy training," Methodist said in an email comment on the guilty pleas. "There are serious consequences for individuals who violate privacy policies."