1,300 Patients’ Medical Records Viewed Without Authorization by Palomar Health Nurse

Over 1,300 clients  of Palomar Medical Center Escondido have been wanred that a nurse, previously employed by the group, accessed their medical records without permission while they were being treated at the health center.

The privacy breaches happened over a 15-month duration between February 10, 2016 and May 7, 2017. The unauthorized access was noticed when access logs were audited. The review showed a pattern of access that was not in line with the nurse’s work tasks.

The audit uncovered that the nurse had seen the records of patients that had been assigned to her care, along with patients assigned to another nurse’s care in the same section.

The incident seems to be a case of curiosity, rather than data access with malicious aims. Palomar Health has found no evidence to suggest any information was recorded and taken from the hospital, and no reports have been made to suggest any patient information has been used with malicious intent. After an internal investigation into the privacy violations was carried, the nurse departed her post.

The information seen was limited to names, dates of birth, genders, medical record details, treatment centers attended, diagnoses, allergies, and medications for 1,309 clients. Financial data, insurance details, and Social Security details of four patients were present in a part of the medical record system that was logged onto by the nurse. Those four patients have been offered identity theft protection services as a precautionary measure.

Palomar Health is currently putting in place a new system that will automatically review the logs created when medical records are seen and when access attempts are made. The system will permit the health system to quickly uncover cases of snooping and data theft. Employees at the hospital will also be given additional privacy and security awareness education.