Famous Cases of HIPAA Violations

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Humans are naturally curious creatures. Simply put, wondering about our world and the other people living in it is basic human nature. For some people, celebrities are mere commodities, but for others, they’re modern marvels. Some people can’t help but be curious about the lives of the rich and famous—all the while, the itch to snoop and snitch on celebs is detrimental for those employed in health care.

HIPAA laws are privacy laws in the health care industry that grant the right to protection of a patient’s health information. Basically, sneaking a quick peek at another’s medical records—which most employees have no business or privilege to know—is one of the common risks contributing to HIPAA violations. Nonetheless, numerous illegal instances have occurred, completely ignoring or overlooking these rights to utter privacy. Here are a few famous cases of people who violated HIPAA and the legal consequences that followed.

Britney Spears

Britney Spears has been in the spotlight for decades, and there’s no denying that the singer’s high level of fame gave way to misfortune. When she gave birth to her son in 2005, several UCLA employees faced disciplinary action for sneaking a peek at her medical records. Oops, they did it again in 2008 when Ms. Spears was admitted to the psychiatric unit at a UCLA medical center in Los Angeles. At the time, over a dozen employees snooped on her personal evaluation files and ended up being fired or receiving a suspension.

Michael Jackson

One of the most famous cases of people who violated HIPAA has to do with the late King of Pop himself, who dealt with paparazzi, trashy tabloids, and the media circus all his life. After Mr. Jackson’s death in 2009, unauthorized staff members at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles viewed the megastar’s death certificate over 300 times. The UCLA Health system received a fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars by 2011 for these grave violations of HIPAA privacy laws.

Kim Kardashian

The famous reality star gave birth to her daughter in June 2013. While the American socialite was in the hospital at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, at least five workers viewed her medical records inappropriately out of their pressing celeb curiosity. The employment termination of these staff members was justifiable for taking “keeping up with the Kardashians” too far.

Honest mistakes involving HIPAA violations can occur daily in the health care system, but these instances shed light on the growing lack of privacy for higher-profile individuals. Insider threats play a concerning role in many organizations today, and kicking curiosity to the curb in the workplace is merited when private and sensitive information is involved.

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