Many celebrities are used to seeing paparazzi wherever they go, including movie premieres, daily errands, and even private vacations. However, U.S. federal regulators have decided that there’s one area of celebrity life that is off-limits to the general public: their medical records.
In July of this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services investigated UCLA Health Systems hospitals and found the system guilty of extreme privacy violations after workers at all three facilities accessed confidential medical records of celebrities who were patients between 2005 and 2008. Some of the celebrities included Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, both of whom died in 2009.
Due to the violations at the UCLA hospitals, the U.S. HHS Office for Civil Rights fined the health system over $865,000 for its failure to protect its celebrity patients’ medical information. In one case, a hospital employee was caught reviewing the private medical record of Farrah Fawcett and selling the information to a national tabloid. While this employee was eventually fired and later pleaded guilty to a felony, the government said the UCLA hospital system did not do enough to prevent these kinds of violations in the future. Along with the hefty fine, the HHS required that UCLA’s hospitals release a written plan detailing how administrators would avoid another information leak and that the staff be retrained about compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
UCLA Health System responded to the finding by saying that the administration was committed to preserving patient confidentiality. The CEO added that “our patients’ health, privacy and well-being are of paramount importance to us.”
Image c/o: Gribiche