Thursday, August 28, 2008

New oversight, stiffer penalties approved for snooping into patient records

When reading this headline of the Los Angeles Times I felt torn. On one hand, it's good to know there appears to be a lot of effort being made by the Legislature to crack down on those that snoop in others medical records. Yet, because there is this attention that can only mean one thing: this is a problem that has become an epidemic - all too common and all too easy.

Before I get to the article, let me first provide information to those that feel they might have been a victim of medical idenitity theft - even if its just a suspicion that someone snooped in your records. It happens to be that the World Privacy Forum has a whole section dedicated to this very problem and what to do about it. Check it out here.

Now to the Los Angeles Times article on what's being done in Sacramento about this:

...the state Senate approved a measure that would require hospitals to draft a plan to safeguard patient information and set up a new state Office of Health Information Integrity with power to review plans and violations and assess fines of up to $250,000 against people who violate patient privacy. A companion bill, which the Senate has yet to act on, would allow fines of up to $250,000 against healthcare providers in case of breaches.

... person at UCLA viewed confidential patient information more than 900 times. Monica Wagner, a deputy director of the state Department of Public Health, said 30 snooping cases have been reported statewide in the last two years, and more are believed to be occurring but go unreported.


The Jones bill, which is supported by the California Hospital Assn., would hold individual employees accountable for rogue behavior in cases in which hospitals have done everything possible to keep records private.

Alquist's measure, SB 541, would increase fines against individuals and health facilities for serious medical errors from the current maximum of $50,000 to a limit of $125,000.

Click here to read more.

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