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University of Iowa News Release

 

Nov. 14, 2008

UI Hospitals and Clinics announces disciplinary action

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics today announced that a routine review of computer access to confidential patient information revealed that, unfortunately, some members of the staff had accessed such information inappropriately. These reviews are part of the ongoing compliance process to assure that protected patient information is not being accessed inappropriately.

Hospital CEO Ken Kates stated, "UI Hospitals and Clinics is fully committed to assuring the highest possible degree of patient confidentiality and data security. This breach of confidentiality is totally unacceptable and very disappointing."

Kates further stated, "Our investigation into this matter is ongoing. However, at this point, we have now disciplined eight employees, resulting in most receiving unpaid suspensions and including one whose employment was terminated. We want to assure our patients and the public that their medical information is secure, and that for people who violate our privacy policies, there will be disciplinary action."

Everyone working or volunteering at UI Hospitals and Clinics is required to sign a statement attesting to their understanding of the policy and the Privacy Rule as part of their annual training. Furthermore, everyone is frequently reminded that it is also inappropriate to discuss a patient's status, care or other circumstances with those not involved in the patient's direct care, or to discuss a patient in a public setting.

Kates also stated that UI Hospitals and Clinics had followed its policies regarding disclosures to patients and that UI Hospitals and Clinics has apologized for this extremely unfortunate and very rare occurrence.

"Clearly," Kates said, "we will be stepping up both our training and the penalties for inappropriately accessing or sharing confidential patient information."

UI Hospitals and Clinics plans to conclude the investigation complete the disciplinary processes and move ahead to focus on more rigorous prevention to ensure this situation does not recur.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Care Marketing and Communications, 200 Hawkins Drive, Room E110 GH, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1009

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu.