CA finalizes bills boosting patient privacy

California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new law that imposes tougher penalties for violations of patient privacy as well as for serious medical errors. Under the terms of the bill, the state will create an Office of Health Information Integrity, whose job will be to to assess penalties against individuals who violate patient privacy. It will have the authority to impose fines of up to $250,000, no joke when you're an average individual consumer. It will also raise fines for serious medical errors by hospitals from $25,000 to as much as $125,000 per violation. The bill was drafted in response to UCLA Medical Center privacy violations in which patients spied on celebrity medical records.

At the same time, Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have required insurance companies to prove that patients intentionally mislead them before the insurers could revoke coverage. On the other hand, he approved a bill banning insurance companies from revoking family coverage based on alleged misinformation on the application of a single family member.

To learn more about this legislation:
- read this Modern Healthcare article

Related Articles:
Report: UCLA privacy breaches happen often
California expands health data breach rules