Capital Clicks

U of I Hospitals denies sharing patient information with Facebook

By: - April 27, 2023 4:46 pm

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is denying a lawsuit's claim that it has shared private patient information with Facebook. (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

The University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics is denying that it shares any confidential patient information with Facebook.

Last week, lawyers for an Iowa woman, Eileen Yeisley, filed suit against UIHC in federal court for the alleged “intentional, reckless, and/or negligent disclosure” of confidential medical information to the social-media giant Facebook.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status to represent a broad array of patients, alleges that UIHC manages or controls two websites that it encourages individuals to use for booking medical appointments, locating physicians and treatment facilities, communicating medical symptoms, procuring information on medical conditions and treatment options, and signing up for events and classes.

According to the lawsuit, UIHC installed on those websites two sets of computer code that tracks the online activity of people as they interact with those particular websites. Information about that activity is allegedly shared with Facebook and linked to that individuals’ personal Facebook account.

Facebook, in turn, has allegedly sold that information to third-party marketers who can then target the individuals’ Facebook pages with ads tailored to their medical issues.

The lawsuit claims UIHC installed the computer coding — copies of which are included in the plaintiffs’ petition — for marketing purposes in an effort to bolster its profits.

On Thursday, University of Iowa Health Care released a written statement that said: “University of Iowa Health Care is committed to protecting patient privacy. We do not share protected health information of our patients with Meta or Facebook. We will review the lawsuit once received.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.