A former researcher at the UCLA School of Medicine has been sentenced to four months in federal prison for violations of the HIPAA privacy rule.

Huping Zhou, a cardiothoracic surgeon in China before immigrating to the United States, was employed at UCLA in 2003. On Oct. 23, 2003, he received a notice of intent to dismiss him for performance reasons that did not include illegal access of medical records. That evening, he accessed medical records of his superior and co-workers, and during three other periods during the next four weeks accessed UCLA patient records, many of them involving celebrities, a total of 323 times, according to the FBI office in Los Angeles.

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