Doctors Get Less Severe Penalties Than Other Staff for Data Breaches

On Friday, California health inspectors released three reports revealing that physicians who breached pop star Britney Spears' electronic health records at UCLA Medical Center received less severe disciplinary action than nonphysician employees at the hospital, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The Department of Public Health said 53 employees, including 14 doctors, at UCLA Medical Center breached Spears' records on two occasions. None of the physicians quit or were fired, while 18 other employees resigned, retired or were dismissed after the violations were discovered, according to UCLA data.

In the past, UCLA has said physicians are overseen by a group of their peers, while other employees report to the human resources department.

Reaction

On Friday, officials said all employees should be held to the same standards and receive similar disciplinary measures.

David Feinberg, CEO of the UCLA Hospital System, said, "Historically, doctors have been treated in a way that may be more lenient than nonphysicians, and we will address that."

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block also said UCLA will improve its computer systems to increase security for patients' EHRs. Officials also announced the creation of a high-level committee to review privacy policies and ensure staff discipline is administered fairly (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 4/12).


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