The California Department of Public Health has fined five hospitals--one of them twice--for violations of patient privacy caused by employees.

California state law authorizes the fining of facilities and individuals, and disciplinary action against licensed professionals, for privacy violations. For instance, Kaiser Bellflower Hospital in Los Angeles was hit with fines of $187,500 and $250,000 in 2009 after multiple employees improperly accessed the records of octuplets mother Nadya Suleman and her children. At least 27 employees were disciplined, fired or resigned.

The new fines against five hospitals total $675,000. The hospitals are:

* Community Hospital of San Bernardino, $250,000, for unauthorized access of records from 204 patients by one employee;

* Community Hospital of San Bernardino, $75,000, for unauthorized access of three patients' records by one employee;

* Enloe Medical Center in Chino, $130,000, for unauthorized access to one patient's records by seven employees;

* Rideout Memorial Hospital in Marysville, $100,000, for unauthorized access to 33 patients' records by 17 employees;

* Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, $95,000, for unauthorized access of one patient's records by four employees; and

* San Joaquin Community Hospital in Bakersfield, $25,000, for unauthorized access to three patients' records by two employees.

Disciplined facilities are required to submit a corrective action plan to the department. For more information, including the department's complaint document against each facility, click here.

--Joseph Goedert


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