Healthcare News & Insights

No, you can’t look up your ex’s medical records


Seems like Iowa hospitals are facing an epidemic of nosiness — and HIPAA violations.

The Des Moines Register documented a slew of workers who’ve been fired in the past month for unauthorized access of medical records and related offenses. They include:

  • A patient orders coordinator at Mahaska County Hospital was fired for allegedly accessing the records of her boyfriend’s ex-wife, as well as a hospital volunteer.
  • Another patient orders coordinator at Mahaska viewed various emergency and obstetrics patients’ records, including those of the birth mother of her adopted child, her ex-husband, her current husband and several other family members.
  • A worker (title not given) at Keokuk Area Hospital was accused of sharing a patient’s medical information via public Facebook messages with another hospital worker. The patient was not identified by name, but enough details were included that s/he could be identified.
  • A worker (title not given) at Mercy Hospital Medical Center was fired after looking at a particular patient’s medical records out of personal curiosity. Several workers had been previously warned against accessing the patient’s records. The patient was a child born at the hospital in February.
  • A phlebotomy clerk at University of Iowa Hospitals was fired after telling several other co-workers medical details of a patient who plays on one of the University’s sports teams. Information she shared included his name, the team he played for, his underlying medical condition and how often he had blood drawn.

Depressing, isn’t it?

On the bright side, both Mahaska employees were fired after other staffers reported the incidents, and co-worker reports seem to play a part in some of the other reported instances. So training on the importance of adhering to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and keeping patient records confidential is working — sort of.

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