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Interesting Circumstances Lead to Medical Disclosures and Firings

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Back in March, 10 people were injured and another was killed after a drug overdosing in Blaine Minnesota. It was later determined that they had ingested what is thought to be the designer drug known as the hallucinogenic “2 C-E” . Timothy Richard Lamere of Blaine, was later charged with murder in the third degree.

Apparently there was great interest in the medical records that were involved with the case. 32 Allina hospital employees were fired last week as a result of unauthorized disclosure of the medical information. The Minneapolis Tribune reported that the firing was disclosed after a tracking audit:

David Kanihan ( a hospital spokesman) said Allina has the ability to track whenever an employee accesses a patient’s electronic medical records. Because the drug overdoses were a "high-profile case," he said, hospital officials conducted a review and determined that 32 employees had viewed the patient records without permission.

He would not identify what types of employees were involved, except to say that they worked in patient care, or speculate on their motives for examining the records.

"These people have a legitimate role in accessing electronic medical records in general — just not for these patients," he said. Kanihan declined to talk in detail about the investigation.

The disclosure could be a violation of federal HIPPA and state medical records disclosure laws. While there are still many unanswered questions about what remedies are available for patents who have their records disclosed, it is clear that such disclosures are prohibited.

In many cases, attorney’s fees and costs claims can be made. There are also medical liability policies that provide for coverage when these violations take place. People are expected to disclose their most intimate secrets when they go and see their doctors. Those statements are not the hospital’s or the medical provider’s to disclose without proper authorization.