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Thursday, April 24th 2008

Patient Privacy Only Half Applies To Physicians

Brittney Spears underwent a very publicly reported invasion of her privacy during two stays at UCLA affiliated hospitals. As happens with celebrities many hospital employees took a look at her records without a need to.

The trouble is that physicians who did so apparently got off lighter than other employees.

[A]t least 53 UCLA staffers — including 14 physicians — looked at Spears’ medical records on the two occasions, even though they were not treating her, according to statistics from the state and UCLA officials. Eighteen non-doctors resigned, retired or were dismissed after their prying was discovered, according to data provided to The Times by UCLA. No physicians quit or were fired.

“Historically, doctors have been treated in a way that may be more lenient than non-physicians, and we will address that,” said Dr. David Feinberg, chief executive of the UCLA Hospital System.

“We will do everything possible in the future not to be accused of that.”

Watcher’s World goes over some of the reasons that physicians typically get off lighter. One of the reasons is that physicians, in the private world, are not typically employees of a hospital. They simply have priviliges to practice at that hospital and in return for such, that is where their patients get admitted when they need to be in the hospital. In this case however I would imagine that the majority of physicians with priviliges at the hospital are UCLA faculty and salaried employees. Firing them might have been a real possibility.

In anycase, the moral of the story is simple: don’t look at patient’s medical records unless you need to. No duh.

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