Kaiser Permanente Fined Over Medical Record Snooping

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California's Department of Public Health has fined Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower hospital $250,000 yesterday because it "failed to prevent unlawful or unauthorized access to, or use or disclosure of a patient's medical information," the LA Times reports.

The fines were levied because of staff snooping into the files of Nadya Suleman, the woman who recently gave birth to eight babies.

California has vigorously enforced and fined hospitals for violating medical record privacy laws, in contrast to the US Federal government.

As noted in the LA Times story,"Federal law prohibits the unauthorized accessing of a patient's medical records. Since 2003, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has received nearly 44,000 privacy complaints. The agency has said it favors helping facilities make needed changes voluntarily as opposed to imposing fines."

HHS finally levied its first fine last July against Providence Health & Services and its second against CVS, the largest retail pharmacy chain in the US, in February of this year.

Given the odds of getting fined, it is little wonder that compliance with Federal medical privacy laws are low.

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