Medical Assistant Fired for Inappropriately Accessing Patient Records

Cedars-Sinai

A Medical Assistant is one of 6 people who were fired by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a not for profit Hospital in Los Angeles, for accessing patient records which they were not entitled to look up.

The records were accessed between June 18 and June 24, which was just days after celebrity Kim Kardashian gave birth at the Hospital.

5 of them used login credentials which belonged to Physicians, while 1 used their own login which had been provided for the purpose of doing billing work - it seems likely that this person was the medical assistant involved.

This report by the LA Times said,

Cedars-Sinai officials said in a statement that 14 patient records were "inappropriately accessed" between June 18 and June 24. Six people were fired over the breach: 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.

All of the staff involved have been permanently banned from accessing electronic medical records at Cedars-Sinai. This means even if they go to work in other practices or clinics, they still won't be able to access records when their patients go to Cedars-Sinai - this could have long term effects on their ability to gain further employment in the area.

This is a timely reminder that a Medical Assistant's privileged role in society must not be abused by doing things like accessing records or ordering prescriptions when you are not entitled to - even if you have access to the systems that allow it.

Under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), fines of up to $50,000 and even have criminal charges can be laid for violating patient privacy - if you're ever in doubt check with your supervisor before looking up patient records.

For more information see the Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.

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