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    Update on Iowa Hospital Firing 3 People Because of Privacy Breach

    Yesterday, I posted a story stating that the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics will fire three employees and suspend two others because the employees misused their access to breach the privacy of medical files of some football players. Now, the Associated Press reports that one of the employees who will be fired has denied that she violated the patients’ privacy.

    The woman has a spotless disciplinary record during her employment at UIHC and has worked in health care for 40 years, said John Stellmach, the president of a labor union representing 2,200 hospital employees. He said she has been accused of viewing unauthorized medical records on a computer for a matter of seconds, which he said should be treated as a minor infraction even if true. […]

    The hospital has refused to release the names or positions of the employees accused of breaching the players’ records nor the specific allegations against each, including the difference between those being suspended and fired.

    Stellmach said only one of them was a member of his union, and he described her as a “front-line worker” whom he would not identify. He said he hopes to get the woman her job back by disproving the allegations or convincing the hospital to reduce the punishment to a five-day suspension through a grievance process if she chooses to contest her discipline.

    He said he has been told “there was a tab clicked and opened for a couple of seconds” before it was closed. He sat in a meeting last week where the employee denied doing so and offered some potential explanations, including that another employee accessed the records from a shared computer she left open. […]

    Hospital spokesman Tom Moore declined to comment on Stellmach’s remarks. He released a document showing discipline for privacy breaches at UIHC can range from a verbal reminder to termination depending on several factors, including how many patients’ records were affected and whether the information was released to an outside party.

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