Laurie Napper, a former medical technician at Howard University Hospital, pled guilty today to a federal charge stemming from the sale of personal information about patients, along with blank prescription forms, announced United States Attorney Ronald C Machen Jr and James W McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

Napper, 33, of Alexandria, Virginia, pled guilty in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to the wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information. The charge is a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and carries a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and potential fines. The Honorable Colleen Kollar-Kotelly scheduled sentencing for September 21, 2012.

According to a statement of offense signed by the defendant as well as the government, Napper worked as a medical technician in Howard University Hospital’s general surgery department. In that capacity, she had access to individually identifiable health information of Howard University Hospital patients, as well as hospital prescription pads.

From August 2010 through December 2011, on at least three occasions, Napper obtained the records of multiple hospital patients.

She then sold the names, addresses, dates of birth, and Medicare numbers to another person, along with blank hospital prescription forms. Napper received about $500 to $800 in cash for each of the transactions.

In total, Napper sold about 40 Howard University Hospital patient names and information to the person, and she received approximately $2,100 in cash in return.

After receiving the prescription pads and patient information from Napper, the person forged prescriptions for oxycodone. The person then presented the forged prescriptions to pharmacies in the Washington, DC. metropolitan area, and provided Napper’s telephone number at Howard University Hospital for verification. Referenced from 7thSpace

When the pharmacists called Napper, she confirmed the legitimacy of the prescriptions, allowing the pharmacists to fill them and to provide the person with oxycodone.

“Patients must be able to trust that their privacy will be respected when they share personal medical information with their health care providers,” said United States Attorney Machen. “This medical technician breached that trust by selling patient information for cash. This prosecution demonstrates our commitment to holding accountable the unscrupulous individuals who violate the confidential doctor-patient relationship for personal gain.”

“With today’s guilty plea, Ms. Napper has admitted her role in a scheme in which she sold prescription pads and patient information for her own benefit.

By doing so, Ms. Napper facilitated the illegal procurement of oxycodone through forged prescriptions,” said Assistant Director in Charge McJunkin. “The FBI will continue to work together with the United States Attorney’s office to bring to justice those who commit prescription drug fraud.”