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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Read all about it: UCLA Medical Center's healthcare for Farrah, Britney Spears, Tom Cruise & Mariah Carey

California health regulators have connected 14 more people affiliated with UCLA Medical Center, including four physicians, to the improper viewing of celebrity medical records, bringing the number of current and former workers apparently implicated in the snooping scandal to 68.

The additional violations came to light in a report by the California Department of Public Health, which was sent to the hospital Friday. The findings are the latest to stem from reports in The Los Angeles Times about UCLA employees' prying into records of celebrities and co-workers. The regulators faulted UCLA for failure to maintain patient confidentiality and report the breaches to regulators.

One employee reviewed the records of actress Farrah Fawcett on 104 days between July 1, 2006, and May 21, 2007. She also looked at the records of pop star Britney Spears, whose medical files have been viewed inappropriately by dozens of other UCLA workers. The employee was indicted by a federal grand jury last month for allegedly selling information to the news media from medical records of celebrity patients. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Earlier news stories described the inappropriate viewing of the UCLA Medical Center's healthcare records of Tom Cruise and Mariah Carey.

State inspectors found that 13 other people affiliated with UCLA apparently snooped on Britney's records between July 2006 and May 2007. That is in addition to 53 staffers identified in three previous state reports who looked at her records on other occasions. The 13 included three physicians, a physician trainee, three registered nurses, two outside contractors, a volunteer and three support staff.

A note on this blog's policy on the "outing" of healthcare organizations where errors have occurred: Normally I do not name the organization. In this case, because of their published history of numerous repeated errors with no apparent system safeguard to prevent their recurrence, I have referred to UCLA Medical Center by name.

Advice to Hollywood celebrities: Choose other places than UCLA Medical Center to get your healthcare, unless you want riffraff like me to read about it.

Read another privacy story.

Thanks to Charles Ornstein for the source article in the May 14 issue of the Los Angeles Times.

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