On January 8, 2010, a researcher with the UCLA School of Medicine became one of just a handful of people in the United States to be convicted of violating the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). In pleading guilty to four separate misdemeanor counts of violating HIPAA, he admitted to obtaining individually identifiable health information without a valid reason, medical or otherwise. The defendant was a licensed cardiothoracic surgeon in China, working at UCLA as a researcher. In October 2003, he was given notice that he would be terminated. After that and while still employed, he accessed his supervisor’s and other coworkers’ medical records. He then continued to access the medical records of other patients, including well-recognized celebrities. All totaled, he illegally accessed the UCLA patient records system more than 300 times in a three-week period.
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