In separate incident employees based in Michigan and Illinois have been fired from their positions due to their involvement in HIPAA violations.
At Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago an employee was fired for improperly accessing the medical records of patients without authorization during a time period of 15 months.
The privacy violations were first spotted by the hospital on March 5, 2020. The employee’s access to hospital systems was immediately terminated while the investigation was completed. After reviewing access logs, the hospital deducted that the employee had accessed the medical records of 4,824 patients without authorization from November 2018 and February 2020.
The range of data by the employee included names, addresses, dates of birth, diagnoses, medications, appointments, and medical procedures. No health insurance information, financial information, or Social Security numbers were downloaded or viewed.
No justification for this access was provided for the accessing of the medical records, but the hospital says it does not believe the staff member obtained, misused, or disclosed the information to anyone else. The hospital said the individual is no longer employed at the clinic.
In another incident, in Michigan, Mercy Health has sacked an employee for for alleged violations of the HIPAA Privacy Rule.
The termination of a nurse at Hackley Hospital in Muskegon, MI took place on April 3, 2020. This occurred not long after the nurse raised concerns in media interviews about the level of preparedness of the hospital for the COVID-19 pandemic and how the alleged lack of readiness put safety at risk. The nurse contacted the Michigan Nurses Association Labor Union, which alleged that Mercy Health terminated the nurse for speaking out. The Labor Union also submitted a charge with the National Labor Relations Board.
Mercy Health has stated that nurse in question, Justin Howe, was terminated for accessing the medical records of multiple patients over a period of several days. The records were for not for patients receiving treatment at the campus where the nurse worked and there was no valid work reason for accessing those records. Mercy Health stated that Howe was not the only nurse terminated in relation to improper medical record access.
A Mercy Health’s press release said: “We have mechanisms in place to monitor for inappropriate access of privileged information. As part of this review process, Mr. Howe along with others were terminated for the same. This investigative effort is still in process.”