Law will fine hospitals, staffers for sharing patient records

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law today a bill that would fine health care facilities where patient confidentiality is breached, as well as employees who do the snooping.

The law comes in response to a federal lawsuit against a UCLA Medical Center staffer who allegedly downloaded the medical records of celebrity patients and sold the information to tabloid newspapers.

Schwarzenegger said patient privacy is a fundamental right and critical component of good medicine. Patients seeking care at a hospital “should never have to worry that their private medical information will be shared,” he said.

Hospitals and other medical facilities where patient confidentiality is compromised could be fined from $25,000 to $250,000, as could individuals who illegally disclose medical records.

The legislation also creates the state Office of Health Information Integrity.

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