Minneapolis medical assistant fired for accessing patient data

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A medical assistant at Minneapolis-based health clinic Inver Grove Heights – a part of Allina Health System – was fired for the unauthorized viewing of nearly 4,000 patient records over the span of more than three years.

How many victims? 3,807.

What type of personal information? Names, addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, clinical information, health insurance information and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.

What happened? A medical assistant inappropriately viewed the information over the span of more than three years.

What was the response? Upon confirmation that the employee was accessing the information, Allina Health System began a thorough investigation that resulted in the employee being fired. Allina is reevaluating policies related to protecting patient information, examining computer security programs and educating employees on maintaining the privacy of patient information. Affected patients are being notified by mail and are being offered free identity theft monitoring services.

Details: Officials confirmed on Sept. 18 that the medical assistant was inappropriately viewing the Allina Health System patient records – which cover 11 hospitals and more than 50 clinics. It was determined during the investigation that the employee was accessing the information from February 2010 to September of this year.

Quote: “We did not determine a motive,” David Kanihan, an Allina spokesperson, said. “We do believe that it is highly unlikely she did this for financial gain or identity theft or anything like that.”

Source: twincities.com, Pioneer Press, “Allina fires Inver Grove Heights clinic employee over privacy breach,” Oct. 25, 2013.

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