Hospital workers fired after allegedly snooping into Kim Kardashian's medical records

Some hospital employees in Los Angeles may have gone too far in their quest to "Keep Up with the Kardashians" and now have to face the consequences.

Five workers and a student research assistant at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center (Calif.) have been fired over privacy breaches involving patient medical records--and there is speculation that the patient was Kardashian, who gave birth to her daughter with rapper Kanye West in a birthing suite at the hospital on June 15, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Accessing the records violates the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which limits what information can be accessed without a patient's permission.

A hospital spokeswoman wouldn't identify the patients whose records were accessed, but did confirm those patients had been notified of the breach. Five of the workers accessed a single patient record and one other looked at a total of 14. Those fired will be permanently denied access to Cedars-Sinai records even if they go on to work for other health providers, according to the article.

Although neither the hospital nor Kardashian or West's representatives will confirm the information, celebrity gossip site TMZ.com reports it has confirmed that Kardashian was the victim of the privacy breach.

According to TMZ, "Our sources say the family suspected that information was leaking from the hospital after various media reports surfaced with certain information about the birth of her daughter North that she hadn't told anyone."

Privacy breaches for celebrity patients are nothing new--in 2008, the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center discovered that several employees had snooped into the patient records of dozens of celebrities, including Britney Spears, Tom Cruise and Maria Shriver.

UCLA Hospital System CEO David Feinberg, M.D., said in 2012 that the experience was a wake-up call for the health system.

"It definitely was a crisis that we turned into a great opportunity," Feinberg said. "We had a very, very lax culture around privacy, and because we happened to treat an A-list of celebrities, it got national attention. But the reality was we were sloppy not only with celebrities, but also with a nurse looking at another nurse's records to see if she was really sick yesterday.That was our culture."

To learn more:
- read the Los Angeles Times article
- read the TMZ article

Related Articles:
Up for debate: HIT and patient privacy
Small physician practices are targets of hackers, too
Professionalism of your hospital's info security staff vital to data protection
Facebook post, removed records among latest patient privacy breaches

Suggested Articles

The Department of Health and Human Services announced proposed changes to privacy restrictions on patients' substance use treatment records.

An FDA official said the agency is in discussions with multiple stakeholders to create a universal unique medical device identifier to be stored in EHRs.

Virtual care, remote monitoring, telehealth and other technologies have long been on the “nice to have” list for healthcare. But that's changing.