Health Information Management

California legislation aims to safeguard patient information

HIM-HIPAA Insider, September 8, 2008

The California Senate has approved a plan to protect patient privacy with new oversight and greater penalties, the Los Angeles Times reported August 27.
 
This legislation comes in the wake of major privacy breaches at UCLA Medical Center where approximately 127 employees inappropriately accessed celebrities’ medical records, according to the article.
 
The proposed measure provides for creation of a new state Office of Health Information Integrity with authority to assess fines of up to $250,000 against individuals who violate patient privacy, the newspaper reported.
 
The state Senate passed the bill by a vote of 29 to 7. Senator Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield) voiced support for patient privacy but voted against the legislation because of his concern that hospitals would pass the cost of a $250,000 fine on to patients.
 
“Our current system of protecting patient privacy has not served as a sufficient deterrent to stop repeated and damaging breaches of patient confidentiality,” Senator Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), author of a companion bill that would allow fines of up to $250,000 against providers, told the newspaper.
 
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