Guest reveals sensitive medical information in review, Airbnb refuses to remove it

We’ve successfully hosted a couple of hundreds guests in our private apartment and reviews have been great so far.

A recent guest, however, was not very happy with her stay. She made a lot of silly complaints (woke my wife up in the middle of the night to ask for extra towels, complained about street noise and she was very upset because we could not pick her up at the train station (we usually do as an extra service, but my wife had just had surgery she was recovering from and I was on travel).

In the review she had nothing but negative things to say. We can deal with complaints about street noise and towels, but she also named my wife’s drugs (which she had to take after her surgery) and claimed she was unfit for hosting due to taking them (this is non-sense of course). The drugs were in a private closet not available for guests, meaning the guest had obviously lurked around our apartment.

What surprised us even more was Airbnb’s reaction when we called them to have the review removed. Despite the fact very sensitive information had been made public, Airbnb refuses to remove the review “as it doesn’t violate Airbnb’s content politcy”.

This information being public for everyone to read makes us feel is very uncomfortable. Any advice how to deal with this?

That’s terrible, I’m sorry.

In general, people have had the best luck tweeting at Airbnb. For this one, you night- want to threaten that it’s a violation of HIPPA.

We may not have a right to privacy, but our medical data does.


Respond to her review and clarify that the meds were post op and that she disrespected your privacy by going through your medicine chest. I don’t think booking guests will pay much attention to her negative review when you have so many positive reviews but it’s good to clarify things.


Absolutely! She not only violated your privacy, but HIPPA laws as well. I’d escalate with Air and hit social media hard. Also, hit her back in the review if you haven’t already. Don’t recommend her as a guest, stars deducted for house rules, quiet times (2 am is not an acceptable time to ask about towels), etc.


Quite honestly, I wouldn’t spend the time or trouble. You’re talking about legal drugs prescribed in a post surgery situation. You did nothing wrong and you have hundreds of great reviews so the review is unlikely to affect your business. So why does it make you uncomfortable? You’ll have to forgive me but I don’t understand why legally prescribed drugs should be considered as ‘very sensitive information’.

Whether we are a guest or host Airbnb asks us to describe the experience when we review. So when you spoke to them, they may think that’s all that the guest has done. Hopefully you did too so that other hosts know not to accommodate this woman.

By all means, take the time to pursue this is you want but you’ll lose several hours that you’ll never get back - plus the stress. My opinion only - but in a short time, your wife will be off the drugs, the review the guest left will be hidden on a far-off page and the whole thing will be forgotten.


If it really bothers you, I’d keep calling until you get a rep who knows what they are doing.

Maybe instead of removing the entire review, they could delete the parts about the health issues and the prescriptions.

You could also try Twitter or Facebook to get their attention.


The same thing happened to me. A guest made fun of my disability and allergies in his review and Airbnb said refused to remove.

I agree! This violates private medical information as well as could make your home a target if people know the meds are there! That’s NOT OKAY!!


Thanks for your answers and support :slight_smile:

We’ll keep calling Airbnb to make them remove the review, hopefully we’ll meet an agent with some understanding of the situation.


That’s terrible @Lynick4442 - terrible that a guest felt it appropriate to make fun of your disabilities. And terrible that Airbnb wouldn’t remove the review.


Either call them again and ask that it be elevated to a supervisor. Or better yet, embarass Air by posting their refusal on their Twitter. I guarantee you’ll get a call then.


Patient’s prescribed medications is considered protected health information under HIPPA and the fact that the guest disclosed protected information it is clearly a violation of the law. As the review reveals protected patient information, the review must be deleted or changed.

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How does this not violate their content policy?

Content that is illegal or that violates another person’s or entity’s rights, including intellectual property rights and privacy rights

privacy rights

Medicine that was in a private area. The guest violated your private space, then violated your privacy rights by disclosing sensitive medical information online. How is this not a violation of your privacy rights again?


I don’t believe that HIPAA applies; Air isn’t a health care provider. But I’d still raise the issue on social media, can’t hurt.

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You’re actually right that Air is not violating the law by leaving it there. HIPAA does not apply to them. However, given that medical data is so private and so sensitive that there is a federal law regulating how medical providers are to handle it, they cannot logically argue that leaving it there does not violate their very own content policy.

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Correct. These privacy rules are meant for health care providers to not compromise or share your medical information. This is not a law that applies to the general public. This would be an ethical issue and shows poor social skills and lack of respect. I would just reply that you are shocked that your guest searches your medicine cabinet to share your wife’s post op medications, and that you and your wife were there to support guests.


This is a dreadful violation of your privacy by this guest. I get the fact that HIPPA doesn’t cover Joe Public (I’m on a learning curve here) but it is unacceptable behaviour under your rights to privacy. I would not want this woman in my home

You haven’t mentioned how you reviewed her???

I know that generally we stick to advising hosts not to respond to bad reviews by guests, but I think I myself would in this situation, particularly if I had given them a middle of the road one and then read theirs. Just a factual account of course.


On the basis that a guest almost managed to get a bad review we had left taken down, due to privacy concerns, because it mentioned her partners name*, I think you do need to persevere. It is a gross invasion of privacy to have your medication not only mentioned, but actually detailed, in a public review.

*Luckily she’d used her partners name in the initial booking request, bad review still there.


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I agree but in the big picture look at the world it wasn’t worth going to bat. He did manage to mark me down for poor decription, missing linens, soap, etc. Everything he could he gave me a 1 but his final star was 5 star. As this point it’s buried by about 30 other reviews.


I’m so sorry to hear that! What a rotten guest…and equally rotten of AirBnB!