Waterbury Saint Mary’s Hospital Patient X-Rays, Medical Information, Used By Radiology Tech Students Without Permission

Copyright CtWatchdog.com 2012

A Naugatuck Valley Community College instructor used patients’ X-rays from nearby Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury as teaching tools, without permission from the patients, many of whom were identified by name, date of birth, and included physician notes, according to a former student.

NVCC and Saint Mary’s hospital said the practice was stopped recently after the former student in the radiology technicians’ program blew the whistle on the college.

The student, Jose Pinto of Waterbury, told CtWatchdog as well as the federal Department of Health & Human Services Boston office, that the students were told to keep the practice a secret by the teacher.

His letter to the Boston office said he confronted the program director about the practice and he told CtWatchdog that the director told him to keep it a secret.

NVCC officials said the teacher and program director are still employed at the college.

The teacher, Tony Santos, is also a part-time radiology technician at the hospital, and had a computer password to the medical records that permitted him to access the data from his computer at the college.

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Pinto said Santos used a projector connected to a computer to show the x-rays on a screen. Students were not allowed to take photographs during the classes.

NVCC and Saint Mary officials declined to answer most questions about the matter, including how long the practice had taken place, and whether or not the instructor and program director, James Pronovost, had been disciplined. They said the matter is still under investigation.

They did not deny any of the student’s accusations.

“We are in communication with the other parties, and issues and concerns are being addressed. This is still an open matter and we will have no other comments till the matter is officially closed,” said school provost James Troup, who declined to make the two staffers available for comment, and said he is the only person from the school who could say anything about the matter. CtWatchdog was unable to reach Santos at the college or hospital.

“We appreciate you respecting our position that I am the sole contact for the college.”


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54 Comments on "Waterbury Saint Mary’s Hospital Patient X-Rays, Medical Information, Used By Radiology Tech Students Without Permission"

  1. I do not see the big deal, they have to learn somehow!

    • Paula Hennessy | April 22, 2012 at 5:49 am |

      The problem is with exposing the patient information, not the x-ray. It violates HIPPA, the privacy act.

    • There has been no violation of patient rights, the students see the same images in the clinical setting and by virtue of their student contract they have to adhere to confidentiality rights of patients images and findings. I agree practice needs to be tightend up and make the images anonymous from now on. The bottom line is that this student could not manage the requirements of the program and they are using a weak arguement to taint an otherwise stellar Clinical Radiology Program lead by two of the most respected and professional people I know in the Waterbury community.

  2. Sorry,
    CT Watchdog has it wrong. Since St. Mary’s also has a teaching mission (which is the only way they would accept students from any program), as part of the hospital admission’s process, at intake patients since a waiver and an acknowledgment that students may be involved in their care. The waiver also discusses their medical records being viewed by students, etc. CT Watchdog needs to check about that before he.she says the studenst didn’t have permission.

    • George Gombossy | April 23, 2012 at 9:12 am |

      Matt: thanks for taking the time to write your note. If
      you re read the entire story you will
      See that both the school and the hospital
      Say it was improper and the practice

    • The waiver is for students of the hospital’s programs to view information. These students are trained in the requirements under HIPPA. The community college students are not covered by the waiver as they are not students of the hiospital. They are also not trained on HIPPA.

      • down with Pinto | April 25, 2012 at 9:04 pm |

        I realize that to people outside of the hospital or clinical setting this may sound like a scary and concerning situation. However, the fact of the matter is that students have access to patient information every day because they are the ones performing the actual exams (with supervision from instructors). As a learning tool students are allowed to view eachothers work as a means of improving their performance for future circumstances. Some situations are rare and are unlikely to be seen again so its important that the students are able to all view the images and learn from the situation so that if they are ever presented with those circumstances they will know how to properly handle it. The article clearly explains that the students viewed the images in the privacy of the class room where no pictures were allowed to be taken. It doesnt sound any different than if the students were to view the images at the clinical site (which they are absolutely allowed to do as a learning tool because its a teaching hospital). Personally, I would like whom ever was taking my xray to be as skilled and educated as possible, if that means that the students view the images taken that day in the privacy of a classroom where photos are not allowed to be taken then so be it! I say no harm no foul! Shame on the nieve flunky of the esteemed Radiologic Technology Program at NVCC. Waiting to “blow the whistle” until he was dismissed from the program shows that Pinto was ill intentioned at best and in his immaturity sought to tarnish the good name of the Radiology program and its revered educator. Tony Santos is a man of unparalleled character and sound moral judgement. I believe he is an altruistic individual who’s actions were simply to provide the highest standard of education to his student that he could. Shame on anyone who cannot see that.

        • George Gombossy | April 25, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

          Can you explain how identifying the patients improved the learning experience?

          • The student are not concernced with the identification of patients. They are concerned with learning anatomy and pathology in order to produce an ideal x-ray for the radiologist to make a proper diagnosis.

          • down with Pinto | April 25, 2012 at 11:41 pm |

            Whats a radiologic TECHNICIAN? NVCC sure doesnt have any program for that. They do have a program for Radiologic Technology where graduates become Radiologic Technologists. WHERE CAN I FIND SOME RESPECTABLE JOURNALISM AROUND HERE?!

      • Hey Brian,
        St. Mary’s Hospital does not have a radiological technologist program and has not had one since 1971. Since that time the hospital has had a contract with NVCC, formaly Mattatuck Community College to teach students the clinical skills they need to become a registered technologist.
        I know first hand that students are reguired to sign a confidentiality agreement and if hippa was violated it was by the student without the college or its professors knowledge let alone their permission.

  3. Its called HIPPA. I work at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital and its very serious. We have zero tolerance for breaching patient confidentiality and would fired immediately. The instructor knew better. I would be highly embarrassed if he used my name and information in front of strangers.

    • Strangers?? So every hospital or doctors visit you have experienced has never been with a stranger?? You have always known everyone that has ever taken care of your health on a personal level?? The student that took the x-ray earlier that day is now learning from it in a classroom setting. Where is the problem here?? Do you think the students are talking about who’s who like the class is in Hollywood?? And “so and so” has a broken hip and “you know who” has a collapsed lung. They are concerned with learning how to improve what was done that day, or last week or last month. The student objective is too improve their abilities and gain knowledge to give the best possible care to each and every patient.

  4. It is evident that this news article is one-sided. It fails to state that the student coming forward with this information was disgruntled over being released from the radiology program for inadequate clinical performance. If this one student has come forward why have others not? Also, these students are required to learn HIPPA regulations. It seems to me that the article does not portray the situation accurately. The system seems to be a helpful way to learn how to analyze and correct mistakes when performing x-rays as it is not easy to find imperfect x-rays online or in text books. If these students were truly shown exams of patients they were focusing on learning pathology and how to analyze and correct exams and not on patient’s name or birthday. In my opinion this issue is being blown out of proportion, if the students are familiar with HIPPA then they understand that the information is confidential and for learning purposes only.

    • George Gombossy | April 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm |

      Pat: thank you for taking the time to read the article to respond to it. It is less than two sided because both the college and the hospital refused to discuss it, other than to admit that something improper had taken placed and it was stopped.
      The article clearly stated that the student who blew the whistle was disgruntled and that he flunked out. No one is denying that he raised the HIPPA violations when he witnessed it and the did not stop there. HIPPA requires CONSENT from patients, which did not happen here.

  5. HIPAA is every medical students 101. Lets face it, it’s something we are taught at day one, it is drilled into all of us. Whether we come from a community college or Yale. Was it wrong, yes… but I am thinking, maybe the instructor did it for his students so they could use only the images as a learning process. We don’t know the whole story here. I highly doubt this professors main intentions were to “embarrass” or offend anyone. If my images were displayed as a learning tool I would not be offended, we all have the option to sign a HIPPA form before any procedure allowing various organizations to view our names and information which are everywhere whether we want to believe it or not.
    Lets face the facts people, every year there is a slew of medical students that pick various patients and access their medical records and information for clinical studies, I don’t see much difference. If its such a big deal, the teaching hospitals should have means available to hide patient information while providing students with these images as a learning tool. hmmmmmmmmm…..
    we all know who is going to learn more…the student with the picture perfect images in a text book, NOT>>>>> but more so by both on site clinical time and viewing real life images that are taken everyday by varying patient statures, situations, and staff.

    • George Gombossy | April 23, 2012 at 9:33 pm |

      Sean: you make excellent points in your comment. No we don’t have the full story yet. But what we do know is that not only were the students shown xrays of patients, they had their names, dates of birth as well as medical records. I am not suggesting that the staff had evil intentions. What I am saying is that privacy of the patients were knowingly violated based on what is known so far. If it were anonymous x-rays it would not be an issue. There were of people that the students could identify.

  6. There was no connection. Pinto failed because although he was booksmart he couldnt apply his studies in a clinical setting. The teachers he received the a’s from we’re actually the two he “blew the whistle on”. His clinical instructor who
    He received the failing grade from was a completely different instructor. There is no doubt in my mind that pinto is doing this as revenge, especially since hes said that as far as he knows it’s been going on for a while… If that is true why has no one ever said anything before? Why would we assume that someone angry at the instructors for their own failure be telling the truth?

  7. As a Waterbury resident who has been imaged at the local hospitals, I find it incredible that an instructor would access to private patient info. It doesn’t take a whole wagonload of thinking to understand that for the patients whose privacy was breached, there can be serious repurcussions. Having roomfuls of students casually (or otherwise) nosing through images and notes regarding your tumors, infections or diseases is simply unacceptable. My question is, will the patients who have been impacted be notified, or is this going to be kept a little secret as well?

  8. You haven’t seen anything yet…proposed rules by HHS secretary Sibelius would require insurance companies to reveal private patient information to the government in one of three possible ways (she says in the aggregate–this after laptops were stolen with patient information surreptitiously revealed). This is being proposed under the new “ObamaCare” (sic)–“just vote on it so we can see what’s in it later Act.”

    If this rule takes effect, one can expect a) breach of doctor/patient privilege; and b) reduced competition or cessation of business among insurance companies as they are required to reveal business trade secrets or compete with the government.

    Frankly, I don’t care any more what other voters or TV talking heads think–I have already decided my vote, and it is to throw this government out in November.

  9. past student | April 24, 2012 at 8:49 am |

    Not for anything but did everyone forget that as students, we take the xrays in real its too as part of training, and its also devulged to us , the patients name, dob, history, and their possible diagnosis !!! So does the real life information become any different from old images taken. It’s no secret when a student is taking the xray during the learning process. All other medical fields infact interact with real patients during training and I’m sure use old files of students to learn from. As students, we just want to learn, we aren’t fixated on who’s images they belong too.

  10. First of all that former student is probably disgruntled because he was probably dismissed for inadequate grades or performance. As a former Student of Mr. Anthony Santos, I can say from first hand experience that there was never a single day where I saw him expose any patient information. Yes as medical type students we do need to see first hand cases and information to learn, just like all the medical residents who see patients and treat them in the hospital, then later discuss their cases or use them as case studies. Every x-ray we ever saw in class had every piece of private patient information removed. We had no idea the patient name, age, birthdate, or the date the exam was taken, all information was removed from the films before they were put onto that projector. TO us they were blank x-rays, learning tools, none of them had a face. Its a shame that someone who didn’t make the cut can drag someones name through the mud without any proof, just hear-say and false accusations. Tony Santos is an asset to that program and an incredible wealth of knowledge to all of his students. If there is one person I have met along the way working in the hospital that would never violate anyones privacy, or who took HIPPA laws extremely seriously, both in practice and when teaching his students, it was him. CT watchdog should maybe have a little more evidence besides the word of a “former” student, aka non-graduate, of the program before it tears someone to shreads in an article. Here’s a thought, interview some former students without a grudge who made the cut, and I think you would be hard pressed to find one that would have a single negative word to say about Tony. Finally, for anyone who may be concerned that your images or personal information was leaked in the classroom, rest assured that it wasn’t. Even if an xray was shown of your broken ankle we had no idea who it was, how old it was, what the name was or the sex for that matter, Tony never showed any films before all information was removed, they were just pictures!!! Mr. Pinto should work harder in school, and less hard on misplaced rage and revenge

    • George Gombossy | April 24, 2012 at 11:48 am |

      If the allegations were not true then why did the hospital and school not deny them and why did they say the practice was stopped? showing xrays without any identification would seem appropriate to me.

      • All your article says is that he had access to the hospital’s computer system & he was showing xray images. Just because a patient’s personal info might have been there doesn’t mean he showed it. The ex student who is mad he failed out said he saw names & other such info. FLF wrote that people are taking the word of an upset failure. FLF not once said such allegations were true or not true. According to your article the school did not deny them, but that doesn’t mean the whole story Mr. Pinto is saying is true. The school will not comment until the matter is officially closed so until then we should wait to hear their side of the story. Did you by chance Mr. Gombossy you speak to any other graduates of that program? Did you ask any of them if they saw ANY patients personal info outside of the hospital? It would be fair to speak to someone other than the one making the allegations. All people in the medical field whether they be students or licensed professionals have access to patient’s personal information. We all take an oath to not discuss a patient’s personal information amongst ourselves unless it is in direct relation to a patient’s care & for that sole purpose only. Who knows Mr. Gombossy, myself or anyone else reading this article might have taken care of you in a health care setting & had access to your personal medical information. It is with extreme professionalism that we keep your information private.

    • FLF that was a wonderful article. I applaud you for your courage. Hopefully more graduates will write and support the teaching methodologies at the College.

  11. This initial part of this letter is addressed to “Pat”. First of all you violated the FERPA law, which is the student’s right to privacy. There was no mention in either paper concerning who gave the student an A, nor anything about the other instructor that gave him the failing grade

    Secondly you must be from the “inside” as no one except the teaching staff would be privy to that type of information.

    You stated “It fails to state that the student coming forward with this information was disgruntled over being released from the radiology program for inadequate clinical performance “ and“Pinto failed because although he was booksmart he couldnt apply his studies in a clinical setting. The teachers he received the a’s from we’re actually the two he “blew the whistle on”. His clinical instructor who
He received the failing grade from was a completely different instructor.”

    That said Professor Pronovost has been running the program at NVCC for over 25 years and his reputation is impeccable.

    Mr. Santos was fortunate enough to have St. Mary’s allow him the availability to teach students a variety of topics, pathology, positioning, CT, MRI, fractures… The knowledge gained by the students by using this modality is excellent.

    Patient caseloads are down at the majority of the hospitals and viewing case studies is invaluable. The students are not interested what so ever in the patients name, date of birth, medical record number, only the pathology.

    Now to Mr. George Gombossy the journalist who wrote this one sided article.

    It appears that you breached the journalist’s code of ethics. Journalists/Reporters are never to take on a story with the intent to cause revenge on someone.

    Clearly Mr. Pinto was so upset with his withdrawal from the program that the only outlet to vent his frustration AFTER WITHDRAWL was to make his complaint. He will need to deal with the repercussions of his revenge forever.

  12. Okay, I realize teachers and students may be honorable and in these ethics cases, all us good folk seem to have trouble even imagining abuses since we have no inclinations toward them, but…there are people who are willing to blackmail, humiliate, and prey upon others, and it is to those people, who skulk about sniffing for opportunities to deceive and destroy, that the leak of this info is such an egregious breach. This is exactly what should never happen; I am curious as to how St. Mary’s will handle it.

  13. I too am a former student of Tony Santos and have benefitted from the use of these xrays! Patient’s provide permission to use their xrays in medical education the moment they sign the permission to treat forms! The patients’ privacy was never in jeopardy then or now as the images were only shown for educational purposes to future medical professionals. The only violation may have been of hospital policy for computer access. Remember that were the class still at the hospital this would not have been an issue! Mr. Santos would have been able to do the exact same thing in the xray department. Obviously, this student was seeking revenge against what they thought was an unfair removal from the program. Naugatuck Valley”s program is run extremely well by J. Pronovost and Mr. Santos! The only mistake Mr. Santos made was creating the impression that his actions could be dishonest by asking him to keep it a secret ( if he did say that). I’ve worked with other technologist from other programs and I can say with pride that Tony Santos and Jim Pronovost gave me and my classmates a top-notch education. This is sensationalism not journalism in my opinion!

    • George Gombossy | April 24, 2012 at 3:32 pm |

      Michael, thank you for your note. If the patients had signed away their right to privacy there would be no story and no issue. The point is THAT THE PATIENTS DID NOT SIGN PRIVACY wavers.

      • Every patient that enters a hospital, doctor’s office or health care facility, signs a HIPAA form. Every patient who has had an x-ray at St. Mary’s hospital on a Monday through Friday, has most likely had a student complete their exam. The students wear badges to identify the fact. Patients are aware that it is a teaching hospital and agree to have student nurses, physical therapist assistants, respiratory assistants, and radiology techs, all students, perform their care. If the classroom were at the hospital, would that be OK with everyone?? What is the problem with students learning anatomy and pathology on actual x-rays they may have taken themselves in a classroom at a college, (teaching facility). I would hope the public realizes the importance of students learning on actual patients versus a textbook, (no comparison). Students are not busying themselves with patient names, dob etc. They are trying to gain knowledge and experience to better help a patient have a successful exam with the proper treatment in a respectful manner.

  14. Former student | April 24, 2012 at 7:51 pm |

    As a former student, this is ridiculous. I look at the image above and could tell you just about everything wrong with it. I can only do this because of Tony. I never saw a name on any film he showed and if one was there, I don’t remember any of them! This student he no clue what he is saying or doing. He was angry for his own failings and trying to destroy a wonderful program. If we as students don’t know what we are looking at, how are we suppose to help anyone?

  15. It’s a HIPAA violation. Just because you are at a teaching hospital you have not given permission for anyone to view of your record. The employee/student has to be providing care, you aren’t allowed to access any file you wish for the sake of learning. also if you have permission, block the pt information.

  16. I am a current student at NVCC. I am deeply upset by the article on watchdog. Jose Pinto was a fellow classmate of mine. Mr. Pinto should be more careful about speaking about what he believes other student saw. I never felt that any patients rigts were being violated. I also never heard Mr. Pinto voice any concerns about how we were being taught. If Mr. Pinto wants to attach other peoples integrity, he should take a good look in the mirror! Tony Santos has been a wonderful teacher and mentor to me. He is not only brilliant, he also cares about each student. Mr. Santos always puts a patients privacy and safety before anything else. It is so troubling that a former student can throw mud at a teacher with an impecable record and doesn’t have to answer to anyone for his obvious attempt to ruin a teachers career. Tony Santos has the respect and support of all his students. All I can say is shame on you Jose Pinto!

    • George Gombossy | April 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm |

      My friend, HIPPA laws have nothing to do with whether someone feels that the laws were broken or not. Saint Mary’s Hospital has conceded that at least 50 patients were identified to students with their xrays. These patients did not consent to have their identities revealed. You should have paid more attention to your ethics classes.

      • down with Pinto | April 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm |

        If this reporter had his facts straight and was a reputable source of journalism this article wouldnt call it a “radiology technicians program”. Its a Radiologic TECHNOLOGIST program. A technician is a degree that can be earned in a matter of hours, to be a technologist takes years. Get your facts straight!

      • saint marry's patient | April 25, 2012 at 11:36 pm |

        Hey there Mr. gabble gabble quack quack afflac, afflac Gombossy maybe we should stop writing about a situation that we are not a 100% certain on.

      • First of all sir, you are not my friend and I do understand ethics and HIPPA, but its funny to me how Mr. Pinto never cared about his concerns before he got the boot from the program. My point was that we were in the same class and he was speaking of things that I never saw. To try to ruin a man’s life and career shows you what kind of person Mr. Pinto really is. Im glad he won’t be taking care of my family in the hospital.

  17. As a current student of Tony Santos I strongly stand behind the opinion that sharing these images was not wrong. As students we must learn from every day cases to understand how to correct and visualize corrections, this cannot be found in our text books. We are students eager to learn no one is concerned with a name on an image; infact, I can’t recall even seeing one…this is because no one in class is focused on where the image comes from but instead the image itself and the knowledge we can take from it. Not every exam is picture perfect as ones we see in text books, Tony’s teaching method prepares us as students for cases that we may encounter and not be sure of…such as pathologies we may of never recognized. As students we ARE infact trained on HIPPA. We all understand the reprecussions and privacy regulations. Tony Santos is a impecable teacher and has a teaching style that makes each and every student feel important and capable of suceeding. Anyone trying to taint his name should feel ashamed.

  18. Proud patient of saint marys | April 26, 2012 at 12:52 pm |

    I read the posts on here and I am amazed that this author is still employed when publishing such a poorly researched and one sided article. The author didnt even know the correct name of their program?! If the most basic elements of this article are incorrect why would readers ever trust that the source’s facts were properly researched and found to be factual?! Shame on Mr pinto for seeking revenge for dismission from the program and shame on this author for not verifying his source or his facts before trying to ruin the reputations of the faculty and program at nvcc.

  19. PART 1:
    Mr.Gombossy, I am a fan of your articles!! But on this one you didn’t only blow the whistle, but you blew the horn!!!..I am really disappointed that this was posted without any facts behind it!!! It looks like you where writing this article blind folded and with your ears full of wax!!! Maybe next time open your eyes and get some inexpensive q-tips and clean your ears and watch, listen, and get the facts straight before you do your duck dance and write something. And by the way your transitions could use some work.. Like Donald Trump says “Yooouurr FIRED”.

    Part 2:
    And for you Jose (MR.NO BALLS)Pinto.We all know your reading this and checking the website everyday because apparently you love what you do!! But dude common now really !! It defines what kind of a coward, no character, disgrace to the male species you are!! Grow some testicles and accept the fact that you got let go from the program and stop trying to bring down everyone with you. Obviously, Mr.NO BALLS definition – lack of testicles needs a character and life lesson tune up. Well MR. NO BALLS i am here to tell you that it is a really simple lesson thought to us from birth; accepting failure and learning from it is what makes you successful !!. Trying to bring down someone and even your classmates with you is not going to get you anywhere! To tell you the truth I kind of feel sorry for you, it’s not because you have no testicles, but rather because your probably never going to change as a person!!

    • George Gombossy | April 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm |

      Just out of curiosity, are you aware that most of the facts in the articles I wrote were confirmed by authorities, including the hospital?

      • Radiologic TECHNOLOGIST....not technician!! | April 26, 2012 at 8:42 pm |

        Who confirmed your information that its a radiology TECHNICIAN program mr gombossy? Because where ever you got your facts..theyre WRONG! And judging from the vast majority of the responses here…the radiologic TECHNOLOGIST community agrees that your “facts” are little more than rumors.

  20. As a Radiology Technician GRADUATE from NVCC, Mr. Pinto needs to move on and accept his own failure. Many of students couldn’t make the “grade”. Mr.Santos- he is the most HONEST person I have ever met. For almost 30 years he has been a Radiology Tech and Professor. This is a man who has an impeccable work ethic. A man of HONOR and RESPECT especially patients, so for Mr.Pinto to lie and worse for Mr. Gombossy to allow Mr. Pinto to miss lead people about Mr.Santos and Mr.Pronovost is wrong. also you responded that your facts were confirmed,but was the information Mr.Pinto told you about himself confirmed??? I have known Mr.Santos for almost 30 years, from the start of the Radiology Program.

  21. As a 2008 graduate of the NVCC Rad Tech program, I can tell you from first hand that you will not find two individuals of higher character and integrity than Tony Santos and Jim Pronovost. They’re absolute role models for the students that they’ve taught over the years and both of them are an immense credit to the healthcare industry. I can guarantee any materials that they might have used in a classroom setting were strictly for educational purposes only. And the student who blew the whistle and tried to inference that he received an “F” for the subjective part of the course is very misleading. That part of the course would be Clinical and I can tell you from being an eye witness that Jim and Tony are the most objective individuals that I’ve ever come across in the healthcare profession. Regardless of how they personally feel about is student is totally irrelevant to them. A student will pass the rad tech program at NVCC solely on theirr ability as Rad Techs. As a graduate of NVCC, I am totally offended by Mr Pinto’s accusations. If there were more individuals in healthcare with the character traits of Tony Santos and Jim Pronovost, the healthcare profession would be raised to a higher level of excellence

  22. I have been teaching Radiologic Technology students for over 30 years and have worked with many Doctors, Professors and Instructors. I have never worked with a more professional or dedicated person in my entire career than Tony Santos. There was obviously a reason the student was let go from the program. Not everyone can do both the didactic and clinical parts of the curriculum which is how you achieve the status of Registered Radiologic Technologists. The student signed a “Confidentiality Statement” that covers all teaching locations, no matter what hospital, office or classroom. He obviously decided to take his frustrations out on the wrong person (people). Today’s society teaches us that we should all receive medals for trying, that even if we come in last we deserve a medal. Worse yet it teaches that if we do fail it must be someone else’s fault. It seems that it is a detriment to strive to be the best anymore. It is this type of societal mentality that does nothing but perpetuate entitlement and complacency. I believe that Christ has given us all talents. It is our job to find our talents as we make our way through life. We will never be good at everything. In fact we will all fail at many things. When we fail we need not whine about our failures, but rather understand the lesson. In the case of the student, he missed the lesson. Alas, there are times when it is not our fault, when life is not fair and we need to suck it up and move on. That was not the case for this student. He failed ….and chose to pursue a path of vengeance instead. He found an ear (journalist?) that had nothing better to do than call a foul that was not committed. Mr. Gobossy is the one who should have taken a class in ethical behavior….(but perhaps it is not offered for journalists!) He has tried the case in the court of public opinion before all the facts have emerged… all in the name of a “juicy story”. (it seems after reading the blog he is failing miserably in his attempt to convince or convict.)
    Truthful journalism doesn’t matter anymore, it’s all about sensationalism. He thinks by saying St. Mary’s, Waterbury and NVCC have stopped the practice that it proves wrongdoing. All it proves is that we live in a “stupid litigious world”. Everyone will bend over backwards to avoid sanctions from a ridiculous government agency (have to justify their purpose!) because the money spent in court becomes astronomical. Institutions will always take the road that costs the least and buries the story fastest. (“Thank you Department of Health and Human Services for pointing that out ….we will try to be better in the future” is much easier than having to appear before some inane Federal Committee with a bunch of bureaucrats who don’t even know what’s in the laws they pass ……thanks to Nancy Pelosi they don’t need to read them!”)
    Tony Santos, Jim and all of the NVCC staff have done a fantastic job over the years turning out very qualified Radiologic Technologists. They are highly trained and recognized by patients as caring professionals. They work in many places in this city and state. I have personally hired many of them. I only hope that Tony will understand that one disgruntled person can never change his standing as an excellent instructor. He has always and will always do the right thing for his patients and students. My father always taught me that a person may try and steal a lot from you in life but don’t ever let them steal your dignity. This student and journalist may have tried but I know the dignity of Tony and the program is still intact. Unfortunately, if Tony (and the program) ever receives the apology he (they) deserves, the same unscrupulous journalist will apologize on page 37 (lower right hand corner in small print) because it’s their court and that’s how they play!
    This whole matter is just ridiculous…..and in the words of comedian Ron White….”you can’t fix stupid!”
    In the end WE must all remember that: “the biggest troublemaker you will ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every morning.”

    • George Gombossy | April 27, 2012 at 3:15 pm |

      Frankly David I am stunned by your comment as it is coming from a teacher of 30 years in the field of medicine. It appears to be saying that showing students x-rays of local patients – along with their identification – but without their permission, is legal and ethical. If your teaching consists of similar practices I can assure you that you will face serious repercussions. It is not I who needs to defend my ethical standard sir, it is you. Can you tell me which HIPPA regulation permits that. And can you tell me why Saint Mary’s Hospital in my follow up story, said the practice was improper? And can you explain why identifying the person whose x-ray was taken adds to learning?

      • down with Pinto | April 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

        Students are the ones who took the x-rays Mr Gombossy…tell me how it violates the patient’s rights? They signed a form when they arrived at the hospital to recieve their care stating that its a teaching facility and students will be involved with their care. Students had to have access to the patients information to properly complete the procedure. Why are the same students not allowed to view the images while still in their clinical class for the day. Pinto made allegations that images with patient info were viewed during the clincal class, it is a class directly associated with being at the hospital. The students are still wearing their hospital scrubs while sitting in their clincial class because it immediately follows hospital time. It is all counted as the same class…being at the hospital and then a short class afterwards to discuss the events of the day as a learning tool. How is it ok for the students to take the images but not look at the same images within a matter of hours after taking them, as Mr Pinto accused the program of doing?? Mr Gombossy it is PAINFULLY CLEAR to all who are reading your article that this was poorly researched. The Radiologic Technologist (not technician, as you repeatedly called it in your article) community does not appreciate your comments on a subject you apparently know very little about.

        • George Gombossy | April 28, 2012 at 4:41 pm |

          Perhaps you slept through your HIPPA or ethics classes. If a student technician takes an x-ray, he or she cannot show it to other students and disclose the identity of the patient without the expressed consent of the patient, which did not happen here. It is clear to the hospital and it is now clear to the college. What part of this is unclear to you?

          • spell check guy !! IXG | April 30, 2012 at 10:47 am |

            spell check for mr. Quack quack gombassy : it’s technologists !! Man you must have an early case of Alzheimer’s !!! Better get that checked before you ruin your journalism career!!

          • Mr. Gombossy, please note it’s HIPAA, *not* “HIPPA”.

    • Looking at some of these comments, I am quite frankly frightened by some folks’ easy and quick dismissal of privacy concerns.

      First, let me be clear: HIPAA regulations exist. They are real. And they forbid the unnecessary disclosure of “Protected Medical Information” or PMI. Those regulations aren’t shrugged off merely because there are students involved. They must be obeyed, all the time.

      Second, there is no reason that students cannot learn from radiological images that have been anonymized so that they never see patients’ PMI. They only need to see the images themselves, and possibly basic demographic information such as patient sex & age. Leaving names, DOB, etc. on these images is unnecessary.

      I have worked in HIPAA compliance so this is something I understand. The illegitimate disclosure of patients’ PMI is not a joke, it’s not insignificant, it’s not “scare journalism” to report that it happened, and it’s against federal law to do it.

      I will repeat: That students saw these images and that they were used to teach, does not make the disclosure of PMI here acceptable. Images can be anonymized if people make the effort to do it. Students can learn from real-world radiological images, but without the PMI left on them. It’s the unneeded PMI which is the problem here. Not the use of the images themselves.

  23. Emilia van Beugen | May 31, 2012 at 9:58 pm |

    This is one of the most flagrant violations of HIPAA that I have heard of. HIPAA is a Federal LaW! Anyone who is employed by a healthcare institution should know better than to disclose PMI. Viewing xrays as a learning tool is NOT the issue, the issue is that the patients are identified which is a major breach of patient confidentiality. The instructor (who is a hospital employee) should be fired, no if, ands or buts!

  24. Interesting to see all the opinions here. PHI can be used without disclosure if it pertains to the routine operations of the department and/or if it is for the purposes of ensuring competency and improving quality. Since I was not involved I cannot state facts here but it is common for students to have access to PHI and also training that teaches them that PHI is confidential. Everyone working (and training) in a hospital has access to unlimited PHI on a daily basis. It is part of what we do. Names can easily be removed but medical conditions, contributory history, and symptoms must be included for proper training.

  25. Everyone is so quick to come to judgement. People who post on these sites, espeically about subjects they know very little about, have obviously never made a mistake. Teaching diagnostic imaging to a student (future technologist) is not easy considering the ever-changing technology. I am sure they will handle this appropriately as most radiologic technologists and certainly their instructors are highly professional. Consider yourself lucky to have diagnostic imaging procedures performed by people who are highly educated to do so. Why don’t you research their role in radiation protection to patients and even the unborn.

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