Winkler County Nurse Trial Sparks Questions On Patient Privacy

By Wyatt Goolsby
NewsWest 9

KERMIT - The trial involving a former Winkler County nurse is raising many questions about patient privacy. On Thursday, a patient who's records were leaked in the trial spoke to NewsWest 9. As she explained, some of her personal information is now floating around online.

"I think that I should have been made aware. I think that our privacy as patients should have been the ultimate thing to try and take care of throughout this whole deal, but we weren't," Stephanie Udy explained. "It's right there on the Internet for everyone to see."

Udy told NewsWest 9 she has plenty of reason to be upset. One of the same letters used as evidence in the trial of Anne Mitchell has popped up online. Nothing wrong with that until she found the document included her full name and date of birth.

"It's very disturbing," Udy said. "I understand that it's probably out there on another site, or I myself may have put it on one website, but that's me. I have the discretion over my personal information, but I don't need anyone else to do that for me, nor do I think they should have the right to."

This week, Udy herself testified in the trial. She said she didn't want to be involved with the case to begin with, because she had no problems with the doctor. However, her private, patient information had been used against the physician in the trial.

The compliant against the doctor itself can be found on casewatch.org. Since the letter is evidence in trial, the public can view it. 

So what about your rights as a patient? Dr. Paul Slaughter in Andrews said when it comes to the Texas Medical Board itself, they can look over your information.

"They are exempt from the privacy laws," Dr. Slaughter explained. "And they may request your records. In certain instances, they may be forwarded to these agencies as need be."

However, Dr. Slaughter also said the Medical Board does not have the right to release it to everyone.

"Once a medical record goes to the medical board, then what they do with those medical records is confidential," Dr. Slaughter said.

Slaughter said he can't comment on the specific letter being released on casewatch.org. For Stephanie Udy, she hopes for more privacy.

"Well, as far as it being on the Internet," Udy said. "I understand if they don't block it out while they are in the court or using that document, that's fine. But as far as putting it out there on the Internet for everybody to see, I thought that was wrong, and it doesn't feel right."