The California Department of Public Health, under authority of two laws enacted in 2008, has levied eight fines against six hospitals and a nursing home for failure to secure protected health information.

The department previously fined at least six other hospitals--two of them twice--for privacy violations since being given statutory authority (see story).

In the latest round of fines, Kern Medical Center in Bakersfield was hit twice. The facility was fined $250,000 following a breach affecting 596 patients, and another $60,000 for unauthorized access and disclosure of one patient's information by two employees. Other new fines include:

* $5,000 against Briggs Gridley Memorial Hospital in Gridley after two employees accessed one patient's information on three occasions;

* $25,000 against Children's Hospital of Orange after one employee accessed one patient's information;

* $60,000 against Delano Regional Medical Center after one employee on three occasions accessed and disclosed one patient's information;

* $125,000 against Kaweah Manor Convalescent Hospital in Visalia after one employee accessed and used five patients' information;

* $42,500 against Oroville Hospital after one employee disclosed one patient's information on two occasions; and

* $225,000 against Pacific Hospital of Long Beach after one employee accessed and used nine patients' information.

SB 541 of 2008 set facility fines for privacy breaches up to $250,000 per reported event. AB 211 of 2008 required providers to prevent unlawful access, use or disclosure of patients' information and held providers and individuals accountable. Text of the bills is available at Click on Bill Information then Prior Session, and then click on the Chaptered version of the bills.

--Joseph Goedert


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