Collateral Damage: State Psychologist Suspended After Prostitute Runs Off With Computer Containing Patient Files

article-0-18C797B700000578-729_306x423There is an interesting story out of Washington state where a Washington state psychologist has been suspended from practice after a prostitute took off with his laptop containing files on 652 clients. Dr. Sunil Kakar, 46, reportedly left his computer with the prostitute while he ran out to an ATM machine. The computer was reportedly left as “collateral” for payment for the prostitute.

Worse yet, Kakar failed to report the theft for four days to his office and waited another week before informing police. As a result, these highly confidential files were left in the hands of unknown individuals. Putting aside his ethical duties with regard to confidentiality, he was required to report the theft under his contract with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. The computer was eventually located and police found that he had downplayed the number of patient files.

Kakar sent a letter to clients asking them to try to trust him again, acknowledging that “it may cause concern, embarrassment and inconvenience . . . [and] I take client confidentiality very seriously.”

Kakar does not appear to have been charged criminally. However, he will be suspended until the professional charges are resolved.

The question is his possible liability to patients. Since they were likely unaware until the news story of the theft, it is not clear how much emotional distress could be claimed, particularly if there is no evidence of files being opened. However, if they are unsure of whether such a breach occurred, there could be a claim for negligence and negligent infliction of emotional distress. However, many of his clients appear to have been (at least in the past) prisoners, making this a more difficult legal claim from a practical standpoint. However, Kakar’s clients appear now to include non-prisoners.

Notably, the day that police were informed, the computer was located.

This is not the first discipline for Kakar. According to this article, Kakar worked as a psychologist for the Department of Corrections in April 2011 and was disciplined after “he refused to leave an area where a prisoner was to be strip-searched.” The article says that he then “took food from a prisoner, then jumped on a counter and ate it.” He was allegedly also admitted by a relative to a mental-health facility and later released with a recommendation for a chemical-dependency evaluation. He has also been arrested for driving under the influence and marijuana possession. That is quite a record and yet still be employed by the state as a psychologist. A lawsuit against the state for retaining such professionals can be hindered by immunity issues and waiver issues.

The question is whether he will now face a more significant penalty by the state board.

17 thoughts on “Collateral Damage: State Psychologist Suspended After Prostitute Runs Off With Computer Containing Patient Files

  1. I guess none of his clients would f@ck him for free. I worked several civil cases defending shrinks like this guy for manipulating and f@cking their clients. It’s very common.

    Chris Rock has a hilarious bit, saying all ATM’s should be closed from midnight to 7am. “Because if you be goin’ to an ATM dring those hours, it ain’t for nuthin’ good.

  2. That is a HIPAA violation big time. I have no opinion about the prostitute, because that is a business deal between consenting adults. However, HIPAA requires that electronic storage devices containing client or patient data must be encrypted. The encryption must meet HIPAA standards which are spelled out. Laptops and electronic storage devices are among the most stolen and/or lost items in this country.

    See link below for the HHS web page on encryption standards.

  3. There’s too much bad judgment going on with this guy for him to be mandated (and paid) by a state to counsel other people about anything IMO.

  4. if the hooker had one of these it could have saved a lot of trouble

    but remember, hookers will take a lot of $hit, but they won’t take american express.

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