The Tucson Sentinel reports on a breach of medical privacy at Tucson’s University Medical Center. There have been numerous cases where insiders have been accused of or found to be abusing their access to data. Last year, Ohio police, court and DMV employees used their access to government databases to violate the privacy of an “American Idol” contestant. In 2009, the Ohio Inspector General released a report (pdf) finding that state employees improperly accessed and distributed confidential state records related to Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, who gained fame during the 2008 election as “Joe the Plumber.”
Also in 2009, a New York City police sergeant pleaded guilty “to illegally entering a federal database and giving information from a terrorist watch list to an acquaintance to use in a child-custody case in Canada,” reported the New York Times. In 2008, Illinois employees were suspended for improperly accessing Obama’s driving records. (Such misuse of access cases aren’t confined to the United States.)
In Tucson, University Medical Center officials have fired three employees for violating privacy of patients connected to the shooting rampage of which Jared Loughner is accused:
The three were fired in connection with accessing confidential medical records about victims of Saturday’s shooting rampage that killed six and wounded 13. The incident left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition after being shot in the head.
“The hospital has terminated three clinical support staff members this week for inappropriately accessing confidential electronic medical records, in accordance with UMC’s zero-tolerance policy onpatient privacy violations,” a statement from UMC released Wednesday morning said.
UMC officials would not say how many patients records were accessed, but did indicate that no information had been released [publicly].