Tally of privacy breaches grows

Lin is a Times staff writer.

The number of patients whose hospital records were improperly accessed by employees at the UCLA Hospital System has topped 1,000, state officials said Wednesday.

Kathleen Billingsley, director of the California Department of Public Health’s Center for Healthcare Quality, said the records of 1,041 patients have been breached, up from 939 in the state’s last report in August.

The total number of UCLA workers who have been disciplined for breaching patient records now stands at 165, up from 127 since August.


Wednesday’s report was the sixth issued by the California Department of Public Health after articles ran in The Times this year about UCLA employees prying into the records of celebrities and prominent patients, including California First Lady Maria Shriver, actress Farrah Fawcett and singer Britney Spears.

Billingsley said Wednesday’s report concludes the department’s investigation into UCLA unless authorities learn of other cases.

A statement issued by UCLA said the report “came as a result of a voluntary disclosure by the UCLA Health System.”

The statement added that breaches disclosed Wednesday were found during a retrospective review of records between January 2004 and June 2006 at the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA.

The hospital said it has taken measures to ensure patient confidentiality, including increasing audits of employees who can access patient files and requiring employees to identify reasons for accessing clinical records.