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Duke asks that patient privacy suit be thrown out

Duke University Hospital has asked a court to throw out a lawsuit over data tracking on its website.

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Duke University Hospital has asked a court to throw out a lawsuit over data tracking on its website. A class action suit was filed against the hospital in September.

Four of the state’s largest health care systems sent sensitive patient information to Facebook, according to a report published in June by The Markup and STAT.

The story implicated Atrium Health Carolinas Medical Center, Duke University Hospital, Novant Health and WakeMed.

The MarkUp tested the websites of Newsweek’s top 100 hospitals in America. The publication found 33 of them used a tracker called the Meta Pixel, which sends Facebook a packet of data whenever a person clicked or tapped a button to schedule a doctor’s appointment.

Patients have also sued WakeMed alleging the hospital financially benefited from the sale of private data to Facebook.

On Tuesday, Duke filed a motion to dismiss the case against them, saying the patient who filed it didn't allege any specific injury and shouldn't legally be allowed to sue.

Potential information Facebook could have received includes patients' health conditions, allergies and sexual orientations.

The Meta Pixel sends information to Facebook via scripts running in a person’s internet browser, so while individuals are not identified by name or home address, the data packet passes along an IP address that can be used in combination with other data to identify an individual or household.

A spokesperson from Duke released the following statement: "Duke University Health System values the privacy of its patients’ medical information. DUHS has investigated the use of the Meta pixel on our website and patient portal and has determined that DUHS did not transmit any of its patients’ protected health information to Meta.”