From Modern Healthcare:
California regulators have fined Kaiser Permanente Bellflower (Calif.) Medical Center $250,000 for failing to keep workers from peeking at the electronic health records of Nadya Suleman, who gave birth to octuplets at the hospital in January. The fine is the first under a new state law, which took effect in January, aimed at protecting patient medical records at hospitals and carries the maximum penalty allowable.
Twenty-three unauthorized staff and physicians accessed the medical records, including some at other Kaiser facilities. Seven people viewed the records more than once, according to the California Public Health Department, which licenses hospitals in the state. Kaiser fired one person who peeked at Suleman’s records, 14 others resigned and eight were disciplined.
Kaiser put additional privacy protocols in place, including a warning screen on Suleman’s file, after notifying the state of the first two breaches in February, but other workers later ignored the warning. The staff and physicians could face personal penalties and lose their provider licenses under a separate new state privacy law.
Bellflower must now submit a plan of correction, and has 10 days to appeal the fines. “We share the department’s concern for patient confidentiality and took prompt disciplinary action,” said Jim Anderson, spokesman for Kaiser.