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Breaches in Confidential Records of Celebrities Move Senate

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The LA Times released a news story on August 27, 2008 stating that the California State Senate approved a measure to improve patient privacy. The report revealed that UCLA Medical Center employees had breached the confidential records of celebrities including Britney Spears, Farrah Fawcett and California First Lady Maria Shriver.

State lawmakers approved a measure that would require hospitals to draft a plan to safeguard patient information and set up a new state Office of Health Information Integrity with power to review plans and violations. This also has provisions for fines of up to $250,000 against people who violate patient privacy.

A companion bill, which the Senate has yet to act on, would allow fines of up to $250,000 against healthcare providers in cases of breaches. Sen. Elaine Alquist (D-Santa Clara), author of the companion bill, noted that one person at UCLA viewed confidential patient information more than 900 times. The Senator stated "Our current system of protecting patient privacy has not served as a sufficient deterrent to stop repeated and damaging breaches of patient confidentiality."

The next measures that the California State Senate approves regarding secure data storage and destruction will be important ones.

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