bigstock-Business-woman-working-at-the--37073182We have all heard about the cases of snooping. Celebrities like Drew Barrymore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Farrah Fawcett have all been victims of snooping. Snooping is accessing – disclosing patient health information for reasons other than patient treatment, payment or operation, without authorization. It is a violation of the HIPAA privacy and security rule.

You may say: “Oh, I don’t have to worry. Tom Hanks or Leonardo DiCaprio is not going to come into my office.” Well, a recent case may have you re-thinking.

What happened? A Walgreens pharmacist, Ms. Peterson, accessed a patient’s records and shared a patient’s information with her husband. The patient happened to be her husband’s ex-girlfriend. What happened? Ms. Peterson was sentenced to 25 months in prison and Walgreens was fined to the tune of $1.4 million.

So maybe it’s a girlfriend, school teacher, neighbor, old friend. Patients come into the office and they may not be celebrities, but risk of the snooping, looking at, or sharing information that is protected is a concern for every health care provider. Medical records contain sensitive information: medical history, treatment information, contact information, and a lot of other stuff.

 So what can you do? What should you do? Here are 3 suggestions:

1. Have a policy in place against unauthorized access, use, and disclosure of protected health information.

2. Provide education to staff members regarding data privacy and security.

3. Implement a disciplinary policy in the event of snooping and other privacy and security violations.


Walgreens Fined $1.4 million for Ex-Girlfriend Snooping

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