Cedars-Sinai fires 6 in patient privacy breaches

Jul 13, 2013, 8:20 PM

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP) – Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has fired five workers and a student research assistant for peeping on patients’ private medical records in the days after reality television star Kim Kardashian gave birth to her daughter there.

The hospital declined to identify the patients involved to the Los Angeles Times (
http://lat.ms/12xNqpB), but a spokeswoman said all were notified of the breach.

The records were inappropriately accessed between June 18 and June 24. Kardashian gave birth June 15.

Representatives for Kardashian and the baby’s father, rapper Kanye West, did not provide comment to the Times.

Four of those fired were employees of community physicians who have staff privileges at the hospital, one was a hospital medical assistant and one was an unpaid student research assistant.

Three physicians violated hospital policy by giving underlings their hospital log-on, information that was abused to access confidential patient records, according to the hospital.

Five of the fired workers looked at one record, and one worker looked at 14 records.

The people involved will be permanently barred from access to the hospital’s records even if they eventually work for other health providers, the Times reported.

Violations of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, can lead to fines or criminal charges.

In the past, Los Angeles hospitals have struggled with protecting celebrity records from the prying eyes of curious staffers and from tabloids that have tried to buy information from those staffers.

In 2008, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law fining health facilities for such violations. The move came after then-wife Maria Shriver’s records were breached, along with other celebrities at UCLA Medical Center.

In 2009, the case against a former UCLA Medical Center employee was dismissed because she died of cancer after selling medical records of celebrities.

Lawanda Jackson, 50, had pleaded guilty to the felony charge of violating federal medical privacy law for commercial purposes after she sold information from the records of Britney Spears, Farrah Fawcett and other high-profile patients to the National Enquirer, authorities said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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Cedars-Sinai fires 6 in patient privacy breaches