Calif. hospitals face penalties for privacy violations

California hospitals will face tougher penalties for patient privacy breaches and must do more to inform state regulators of such lapses, according to two new laws signed earlier this week by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The state will create the Office of Health Information Integrity within the California Health & Human Services Agency, and appoint a director to assess penalties against individuals who violate patient privacy, with fines up to $250,000. Monies from the penalties will be used to support healthcare quality-improvement projects. The director can also recommend to state and federal licensing authorities further regulatory action.

Another new law sets fines for hospitals that fail to protect patients’ information of up to $250,000. The law also raises fines for serious medical errors in hospitals from $25,000 to up to $125,000 per

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