Officials at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles fired 6 employees accused of snooping on patient medical records of 14 patients.
Although the hospital has refused to release the names of the patients, the prevailing speculation is that the records of interest, accessed between June 18 and June 24, were related to the June 15 birth of reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s daughter with rapper Kanye West.
Five of the 6 fired workers accessed a single patient record, according to the LA Times, with may reports speculating that the record in question was likely related to the Kardashian birth. The other fired employee accessed 14 patients’ records, according to the Times.
The issue highlights an ongoing concern in patient privacy. Amid concerns about medical record theft and hacking, the largest risk to hospital information traditionally comes from within.
Recent analyses have found that human error was the 2nd-largest cause of data breaches at healthcare organizations, comprising 42% of leaks, just behind lost and stolen devices, which were blamed for 46% of breaches. "Malicious insider" actions comprised 14% of breaches, according to data gathered by BackgroundCheck.org.
Celebrity medical records are perhaps particularly at risk as they may fetch a high price from tabloids or other buyers.
UCLA Medical Center faced its own celebrity medical record snafu when former employee Lawanda Jackson snagged and attempted to sell records for Britney Spears, Farrah Fawcett and others. Jackson, who worked at the hospital for 32 years, began using her supervisor’s log-in credentials to illegally access patient records. She collected at least $4,600 from tabloids before resigning in 2007. Jackson died of cancer after pleading guilty to the charges, but before she could be sentenced, according to CBSNews.