3-Year Jail Term for VA Worker Who Thieved Patient Data

June 20, 2018

An ex-worker of the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach, CA who thieved the protected health information (PHI) of over 1,000 patients has been penalized to three years in prison.
Albert Torres, 51, was hired as a clerk in the Long Beach Health System-run hospital – a position he occupied for less than a year. Torres was pulled over by police officers on April 12 after a check of his license plates disclosed an abnormality – plates had been used on a private automobile, which were usually reserved for commercial automobiles.
The police officers found prescription medicines which Torres’ didn’t have a prescription for and the Social Security numbers and other PHI of 14 patients in his automobile. A later search of Torres’ flat disclosed he had hard drives and zip drives having the PHI of 1,030 patients and more than $1,000 in cleaning supplies that had been thieved from the hospital.
After pleading guilty to numerous offenses, including identity theft and grand theft, Torres was penalized to three years in state prison on June 4.
Sutter Health Fires Workers for Attempted PHI Access
An undisclosed number of workers of Sutter Health have been sacked for retrieving the medical records of patients without approval.
CBS 13 Sacramento informed that an unknown source had verified that Sutter Health had sacked two workers for searching for the medical records of the suspected Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo.
After the news report from CBS 13, Sutter Health representative Gary Zavoral issued a statement confirming action had been taken in response to the wrong retrieving of PHI, according to the Sacramento Business Journal.
Although Zavoral didn’t confirm the number of workers that had been sacked, nor the patient or patients whose medical records were retrieved, he did confirm that the workers concerned had been fired.
Sutter Health has a system in place that creates warnings when workers access medical records without approval. When wrong access is noticed, it typically leads to termination.
In addition to sacking the workers concerned, Sutter Health has reminded all staff that the retrieving of medical records is only allowed when there is a genuine work reason for doing so. The person or persons whose medical records were retrieved are being informed of the secrecy breach.