Avert Disaster: Keep Your Eyes Off Patient Medical Records

Would you be awestruck if a movie star came into your hospital? Don’t let that cloud your judgment.

Spotted: Young Hollywood starlet known for living life in the fast lane entering your facility. Along with what she’s wearing, you might wonder what she’s in for this time — whiplash from a fender bender? ‘Fatigue’ that’s preventing her from showing up on time to her latest movie set? Keep wondering. If you’re caught looking into a patient’s medical records, then be prepared for severe consequences.

Not too long ago, a hospital employee in California was sentenced to four months in prison for reading medical files that did not pertain to his line of work.

The employee, a hospital researcher at the UCLA School of Medicine, accessed patient records at the hospital over 300 times during a three-week period, mostly to peek at the private health records of celebrities, according to a Dept. of Justice news release.

In his plea agreement, the employee “acknowledged that at the time he viewed these patients’ medical information, he had no legitimate reason, medical or otherwise, for obtaining the personal information,” the press release indicated.

The DOJ investigators did not find any evidence that the employee attempted to use or sell the information that he accessed — he apparently sought the information out of curiousity.

To read the complete news release, visit the DOJ Web site at www.justice.gov/usao/cac/pressroom /pr2010/079.html.

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