The recent medical record breach with regards to George Clooney's recent hospital admission underscores how easy it might be for unwanted eyes to look at your medical records. Apparently hospital workers with electronic access to medical records accessed George Clooney's medical records to satisfy their own curiosity or to seek information that they might share with other unauthorized parties.
Fear not -- your medical records are safe. Here's why: Medical records' software vendors long ago instituted security measures that "track" who accesses a record and performs actions in a record. Hospitals and healthcare entities that use electronic records have strict policies on employee access to medical records. These policies are meant to protect patients from the very problem that happened to George Clooney.
If employers can substantiate inappropriate access to a medical record, they generally will suspend or terminate an employee. No questions asked.
In addition, the vast majority of those accessing medical records are licensed healthcare professionals and are bound by ethical rules governing their licensure. Those individuals breaching those rules not only face loss of their jobs but sanctions and actions by their respective licensing boards against their license. This might range from fines to actions against the license of the person responsible for the act.
Once losing a job under these pretenses, it will be difficult for one to land a new job. Hospitals might face action by Health and Human Services for HIPAA violations for violations of privacy rules.
If private information from those records is used or, worse yet, made public, the patient has the right to take civil action against whomever breached thier records. The hospital that George Clooney visited appears to have taken appropriate action against those involved. Time will tell what will happen to them, but I feel that action will be harsh and result in loss of their jobs if indeed they engaged in breaching medical records that they had no business prying into in the first place.
Yes, your medical records are safe.
Published On: October 16, 2007