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Hospital workers suspended for peek at George Clooney's med info

Discussion in 'Off-topic Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Oct 10, 2007.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    Oct. 10, 2007, 6:46AM
    Hospital workers in New Jersey suspended for peeking at George Clooney's medical info

    Associated Press

    NORTH BERGEN, N.J. — Several hospital staffers have been suspended for allegedly peeking at George Clooney's confidential medical information after he was hurt in a motorcycle accident last month.

    Clooney, 46, suffered a broken rib and scrapes in the Sept. 21 crash, while his passenger, Sarah Larson, 28, broke her foot. Both were treated at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen.

    WCBS-TV in New York reported Tuesday night that as many as 40 staffers, including doctors, were suspended without pay, accused of accessing Clooney's medical records and possibly providing information to the media, a violation of federal law.

    The Jersey Journal of Jersey City reported that 27 employees, but no doctors, had been disciplined, and only for looking at the records without authorization.

    The investigation was not prompted by a complaint from Clooney, who said he only learned of it on Tuesday.

    "This is the first I've heard of it," Clooney said in a statement. "And while I very much believe in a patient's right to privacy, I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers."

    A spokeswoman for the union representing some of the workers said they had been suspended without pay for four weeks.

    "We believe this is a harsh penalty and an overreaction," said Jeanne Oterson, a spokeswoman for the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, adding that a grievance could be filed pending further investigation.

    Eurice Rojas, the hospital's vice president of external affairs, told The Jersey Journal that hospital officials do not believe any employees leaked Clooney's medical information, but some staffers did improperly access his records.

    Federal law mandates that only direct caregivers — including doctors, nurses, technicians and support staff involved in a patient's care — see such information.

    Rojas did not return after-hours messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.

    Clooney and his companion were injured when the actor's motorcycle and a car collided on a narrow road in Weehawken, across the Hudson River from New York City.
  2. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    My Hospital has really tried to crack down on privacy issues.

    They have many ways to track who's looking at what.

    Four weeks without pay, just for looking at his stuff seems severe. I could see if they leaked it to the Media...but so far they are saying they didn't.

    Even Clooney doesn't think they should be suspended.
  3. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    Maybe it's not just that they looked at it, but how they looked at. "improperly access" suggests they violated some computer security protocols.
  4. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    Improper access probably just means that these people had no direct interaction with him and would have no bearing on his treatment and they looked at his records because they were curious about a celebrity.

    I'm a MRI Tech and it would be like Clooney having a CT in the Radiology Dept where the MRI is also located.

    Now I would have nothing to do with actually performing his CT scan...but through our Radiology System I could easily access his report along with other personal information...like Home address, insurance info and other things.

    We have to logon to the system and all the Hospital has to do is just look under our logion's and they can see exactly who, what, where and when we looked at the information. I know this because our boss showed us how they do it...probably just to put a little fear into us.:D
  5. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Do it for the Vine! Staff Member

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    Ah I see. Well that makes sense. If that's the case, then 4 weeks does sound a bit harsh.
  6. Hoov

    Hoov Senior Member

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    they deserve that suspension. what if it turns out he has HIV or something similar and it got all over the media.
  7. mr.jameswoods

    mr.jameswoods Active Member

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    I'm a resident physician and it's really ambiguous. For example, Clooney may not be my patient but if I'm on call that night and he is admitted, I cover for the other residents, whose service he may be under so I would be legally allowed to access his records. Nurses and other staff including Radiology techs may access it too if they are on call or consulted by the attending physician.

    Also, we discuss patients in morning report with other doctors. Another doctor will discuss a patient's case for teaching purposes.

    Truth be told, this case is being scrutinized because he is a celebrity. We can access any patient we want and look at their files and no one would think otherwise. But yes, technically it is a violation of HIPAA. HIPAA is very strict. Legally, I'm not even allowed to discuss anecdotal accounts of patients that I see with my wife at home. That is a violation of HIPAA as well.

    I can understand suspending these doctors if they sold information or leaked info to the press. In my opinion, I would suspend their license indefinitely until an appeal is made because that directly violates moral and ethical issues related to patient confidentiality. But simply peeking at their chart seems a bit harsh.

    I think the hospital should have warned it's employees in advance that they would be violating HIPAA if they even glanced at Clooney's chart. Sure, they should already know that but it would been wise for the hospital to be proactive about it and gave everyone including the doctors a heads up.
  8. burmafrd

    burmafrd Well-Known Member

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    Just no way you can really prevent this sort of thing. Curiousity alone will make it happen; then look at the money you can make by selling stuff like that to the tabloids.
  9. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    If they actually went to the media then yes I could understand the suspensions.

    But so far they are saying no they didn't.

    Four weeks without pay for what amounts to looking at his chart or X-rays is a bit harsh.
  10. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    Bingo....it happens every day.

    The only time anyone gets busted is when there is a complaint or it's someones famous and the Hospital actually goes looking for HIPAA violators...which I pretty sure happened here.
  11. Hoov

    Hoov Senior Member

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    I guess im biased because i just hate the way people go gaga over celebrities and just have no self control. It seems the hospital caught them doing something they knew they shouldnt do and they just did it to be nosy. You cant tell me they didnt go home and talk to a friend or family member about it, if they are that curious that they have to run and look through his chart they are going to say something to someone. perhaps it never made it to the media because there was nothing there to report and that is maybe why clooney didnt get upset. Maybe the hospital is being harsh because at a previous time someone did this to a celebrity that resulted in a huge lawsuit, so now the hospital is very strict about its monitoring when celebrities are admitted.
  12. ConcordCowboy

    ConcordCowboy Mr. Buckeye

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    Points noted.

    But IMO short of a Major Lawsuit lost before because of this type of thing...taking a months pay out of someones pocket for what they did is harsh.

    It's the old does the punishment fit the crime...I think not.

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