Thursday, February 10, 2011

3 Fired for Snooping on Electronic Health Records (EHR) of College Football Players

A hospital in Iowa City terminated three employees for snooping on the electronic medical records (EMR) of football players at the University of Iowa. In addition, two other employees were placed on five-day, unpaid suspensions.

The football players had received extensive press coverage when they were hospitalized with a muscle disorder following grueling offseason workouts. The players were being treated for rhabdomyolysis, a stress-induced syndrome that can damage cells and cause kidney problems.
"There is no guarantee against it happening again, because, obviously, it has occurred. However, we want to reassure patients that their privacy is one of our top priorities. Privacy and confidentiality is at the very core; the very cornerstone of trust between the healthcare provider and the patient." - University spokesman
The University is looking into how the players condition. The Board of Regents President and school president said the situation was "a cause for grave concern."
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The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) specifies that electronic personal health information should only be accessed by health care providers with a reason to review it. The Iowa City hospital is said to routinely screen for possible patient privacy violations, especially those with high public profiles.

(a) University Hospitals to fire employees over privacy violations - Channel 7 KWWL, Febuary 3, 2011
(b) Press release from University of Iowa on privacy violations at U of I Hospitals and Clinics regarding 13 Hawkeye football players - The, January 28, 2011
(a) Iowa coach: Five players out of hospital - Associated Press, January 28, 2011

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