Snooping nurse forces Palomar to notify 1,300 patients of records breaches

Palomar Health will notify 1,309 patients that one of its former nurses inappropriately accessed their medical records while they stayed at Palomar Medical Center Escondido during a 15-month period from Feb. 10, 2016, through May 7, 2017. According to a short statement the North County health provider released Friday morning, information accessed in most cases included patients’ first and last names, dates of birth, genders, medical record numbers, diagnoses, treatment locations, medications and allergies. Breaches were more potentially severe for four patients who will be offered free identity-protection services because computer logs show access to parts of Palomar’s electronic medical records system that house social security numbers, health insurance coverage details and financial information. Derryl Acosta, the health system’s spokesman, said the employee voluntarily resigned during an internal investigation. Acosta said that there is no evidence that the former employee did anything with the information that she viewed or that any records were removed from the hospital. An audit of access logs, he said, revealed a pattern of prying for no good medical reason. “The nurse was inappropriately snooping in records, whether they were assigned to that nurse or not. These were records they shouldn’t have been looking at,” Acosta said, adding that, in all cases, affected patients were either assigned to the nurse or to another nurse working in the same unit. The advent of electronic health records, and the need to give bedside professionals such as nurses and doctors broad access so that they can effectively do their… [Read full story]

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