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20 Employees Fired for Viewing Collier's Medical Records

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It seems some employees at Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center violated Richard Collier's right to privacy by viewing his medical records unnecessarily. Under the HIPAA (Health Insurence Portability and Accountability Act) laws, an individual's medical records have been given a new level of privacy. No one in a hospital is allowed to arbitrarily view medical records unless they are directly involved in the patient's care, or if the patient gives them written permission.

What these "employees" have done is both disgusting and reprehensible. None of these people can plead ignorance either because HIPAA law is literally drilled into your head if you work in the healthcare field. In my psychology doctorate program I am currently enrolled in an Ethics course and I had to take a 4 hour online exam to become certified in HIPAA. On top of that, we spent two class periods (6 hours) going into detail about all of HIPAA's regulations, as well as the healthcare provider's responsibility to protect the patient's privacy at all cost.

Imagine someone seeing everything you'd ever had wrong with you since birth; talk about humiliating. Even without centralized records, your medical records are still pretty far back reaching in terms of history. In the technological age we live in today, the stakes are even higher, because it would have only taken five minutes for an employee to scan and post it all over the web. Make no mistake, this is a serious offense and these workers should be fired post haste.

However, it seems the employees union has plans to appeal the termination and file a grievance against Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center on the basis of unfair treatment. Both the union and the hospital have issued statements which I've included below.

Union's statement:

“This discipline is completely out of proportion to the offense,” Doug Martin of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees said. “It’s also treating them differently than others have been treated in the past.”

Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center's statement:

“Any allegation of a breach in patient confidentiality is taken very seriously. All allegations are investigated thoroughly. If it has been determined that a violation has occurred, disciplinary action up to and including termination can be used. In order to maintain patient confidentiality we do not comment on any specific cases.”

I wholeheartedly agree with the hospital's stance on this one. These were special and extreme circumstances with a man's life on the line and all these employees could think about was how cool it would be to see his records. Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh because I'm going into a profession that stresses the cruciality of confidentiality and many members of my family work in healthcare.

What does the Jaguar Nation think? Should the hospital be allowed to fire those individuals?