Judge orders UPMC to return sensitive info

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UPMC has been ordered to return documents containing sensitive internal information that was inadvertently released during last fall's Highmark-West Penn Allegheny Health System hearing.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Christine Ward signed the order Friday, telling the Pittsburgh health system to return the documents and "discontinue any utilization of the confidential information ... for any purpose whatsoever."

UPMC had requested copies of public documents during the November hearing in which insurer Highmark successfully blocked West Penn Allegheny from soliciting other potential affiliation partners. In addition to the public documents, UPMC also was given documents that Highmark officials said contained "highly sensitive business information."

UPMC spokesman Paul Wood said Friday, "Judge Ward is merely requiring UPMC to do for eight of the contested 119 documents what we had already voluntarily agreed to do and executed for the original 16 stipulated sealed documents."

Michael Weinstein, Highmark's spokesman, said the insurer was "pleased with the judge's ruling that UPMC is not in rightful possession of various Highmark records, and the court's order that UPMC is to discontinue any use of the information contained in those records for any purpose whatsoever."

This "was an essential first step, and Highmark intends to vigorously pursue additional remedies resulting from UPMC's admitted use of the documents it never rightfully possessed in its quest to prevent the West Penn Allegheny Health System Affiliation agreement from coming to fruition," he continued.

"We are examining other aspects of the court's opinion, and may seek further or clarifying relief from Judge Ward regarding other Highmark records which UPMC obtained improperly, and which the court found were not public judicial records."

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Steve Twedt: stwedt@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1963.


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