Apparent HIPAA Violations in Hospital Treating Tucson Shooting Victims

As so often happens following a hospital’s involvement in a high profile event, the Tucson hospital treating the victims of the recent shooting is reported to have fired several staff, presumably for looking at patient records they should not have looked at:

Katie Riley, the Director of Media Relations in the Office of Public Affairs at the

Arizona Health Sciences Center said in a statement:

“University Medical Center takes the privacy of all patients very seriously.  The hospital has terminated three clinical support staff members this week for inappropriately accessing confidential electronic medical records, in accordance with UMC’s zero tolerance policy on patient privacy violations.

“A contracted nurse also was terminated by the nurse’s employer.  We are not aware of any confidential patient information being released publicly.

“The families of all patients whose information was accessed have been notified. Any potential breaches of patient privacy by UMC staff will be investigated and appropriately addressed.”

The lesson, of course, is that curious people are all around us and many of them are looking for data they have no right to see.  Our information systems have to be designed to guard against them.

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