California Hospital Faces Sanctions After Workers Wrongly Looked at Patient Records

Jennifer Steinhauer reports in The New York Times:

The head of California’s health department said Monday that the agency planned to sanction the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center after hospital workers improperly viewed the records of more than 60 patients, including the actress Farrah Fawcett and the state’s first lady, Maria Shriver.

The investigation revealed that records of 61 patients, roughly half celebrities or politicians, had been opened by one unauthorized worker who had since quit. “There was intent to terminate,” Ms. Moster said, “and I believe it was going on when she resigned.”

[…]

The hospital did not notify the California Health and Human Services Agency of the violations, Ms. Moster said, because officials thought the center was obligated under state law to report only medical errors. “We are cooperating fully with the department of public health moving forward,” she said.

The state agency, which oversees the licensing and certification of hospitals, has begun its own investigation, said its secretary, Kim Belshé.

Patient privacy rights are protected under a variety of state and federal laws. The medical center could be fined or have its licenses taken away. Also, the state’s findings could be referred to law enforcement officials.

“It appears that we have a pattern of repeated violations, and that is very troubling, and we take that very seriously,” Ms. Belshé said. “It is not a question of will we take action but determining what action to take.”

Full story – NY Times

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