Kaiser fined $250,000 for staff snooping into octuplet mom's records

As if mother of octuplets Nadya Suleman hasn't gotten enough press, now she's in the news again--this time because someone violated her rights. California's health regulators have fined Kaiser Permanente's Bellflower Hospital $250,000 for failing to keep employees from sneaking a peek at her medical records.

The fine is the first imposed under a new state law enacted last year after high-profile violations of medical records privacy, with staff snooping on records including those of Farrah Fawcett, Britney Spears and California First Lady Maria Shriver.

Since the law took effect January 1, hospitals have reported about 300 incidents where records were inappropriately disclosed, but most were inadvertent.

However, the state concluded that breaches of Suleman's records were deliberate, extended beyond Bellflower hospital, and continued even after Kaiser let regulators know it had had a breach. Eight workers at other Kaiser hospitals and the chain's regional office were among those involved.

The new California law allows the state to impose fines against individual healthcare workers in addition to the facility; the state is investigating the matter to determine whether individual penalties are appropriate.

To learn more about the breach:
- read this Los Angeles Times piece

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