HIPAA and Britney Spears


The article excerpt below was published at cnn.com today; I wonder how many medical offices protect patient files from the peering eyes of their employees?

UCLA Medical Center will fire some employees and discipline others for snooping at the confidential medical records of Britney Spears, who was hospitalized in its psychiatric ward, a hospital official told The Associated Press.

Jeri Simpson, the hospital’s director of human resources who was involved in the investigations of the confidentiality breach, confirmed the action but could not say how many employees were affected. The hospital did not say when the snooping took place or which of Spears records were looked at.

The Los Angeles Times reported on its Web site Friday that the breaches occurred during Spears most recent hospital stay. While the disciplined employees were unable to access her psychiatric records, they did look at non-psychiatric records from her previous visits to the medical center, the Times reported.

The newspaper said more than 13 employees, none of whom are doctors, would be fired. Twelve others, including several doctors, will be disciplined otherwise for looking at her computerized records, it reported.

There is no evidence that any employee leaked or sold the information about Spears, who is a tabloid favorite, according to the Times. Still, such snooping is a violation of state and federal medical privacy laws and the state Department of Public Health had opened an investigation of the hospital, the newspaper reported.

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