A doctor and two hospital employees at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Arkansas face a maximum penalty of one year in prison and/or a fine of up to $50,000 because of their curiosity. All three parties have pled guilty to unrelated misdemeanor violations of HIPAA laws.
Dr. Jay Holland admitted to accessing a patient's record after seeing a news report. Dr. Holland accessed the record in order to determine if the news report was true. His privileges were suspended for two weeks and was required to complete on-line HIPAA training.
Sarah Elizabeth Miller, a former account representative at St. Vincent, admitted to accessing a patient's records 12 times. Miller, who had received HIPAA training, was fired after admitting that curiosity was the reason why she had accessed the records.
Canada Griffin, an emergency room unit coordinator, was asked to set up an alias for a patient. After the patient was moved the the ICU, Griffin was curious about the patient and looked up the patient's medical charts. Griffin was also fired from St. Vincent.
All three situations show how simple curiosity can turn into a serious HIPAA violation that can compromise your employment. Make sure that the members of your medical staff and staff in your medical services office are well-trained in HIPAA to prevent violations in your facility.
Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation, Little Rock