Six fired from Cedars-Sinai over patient privacy breaches

Anna Gorman and Abby Sewell  report that five employees and a student research assistant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have been fired for inappropriately accessing 14 medical records in a one-week period last month.

Four were employees of community physicians who have medical staff privileges at the hospital, one was a medical assistant employed by Cedars-Sinai, and one was an unpaid student research assistant.

Five of the workers accessed a single patient record; the other one looked at 14. The people involved will be permanently denied access to Cedars-Sinai records even if they go on to work for other health providers, the hospital said.

Read more on the Los Angeles Times.

Snooping in high profile cases has been a problem across the healthcare sector as we’ve seen many times. In this case, though, I’d point out that although the medical center’s system failed to prevent improper access, they seem to have detected it fairly quickly and responded firmly.  And although hospitals may train their employees on privacy and HIPAA, I can see where it may be more difficult for them to ensure that employees of community physicians provide sufficient background checks and ongoing privacy training to their employees.   Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised to see cases like this one and should be surprised that we don’t see this even more often.

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