Healthcare News & Insights

Precedent set: First HIPAA violator heads to jail


As if staffers needed any more reminders of why it’s a bad idea to be careless with protected medical information. 

The first jail sentence for a HIPAA violation has just been handed down.

Huping Zhou was a researcher at the UCLA School of Medicine — he is also a licensed surgeon in China. After being told in 2003 that he was about to be fired for performance issues, he accessed patient records over the course of three weeks.

He started by looking up records of his supervisor and co-workers, and eventually expanded the snooping to celebrities. In all, 323 records were compromised.

Zhou pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four months in jail, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office.


Click here for more information about HIPAA.

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  1. Four months is not enough! Because he maliciously published private health information the sentence should have been at least one year and revocation of his license! People must be able to feel safe in the healthcare environment!!!!

  2. George J. Bertero, MD says:

    The digitalization of medical records and their widespread avaliability in order to better serve patients carries with it the risk of oss of privacy. The safeguarding of medical personal information while providing such information to the patient’s practitioners is a major problem. The unauthorized malicious use of such information must be regarded as a serious felony crime since it has the potential to ruin a life. There is therefore a need for encription of medical data and this will be genesis to an entirely new branch of medical coding. There is no honor among thieves.


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