Publicity Puts Patients at Higher Risk for Privacy Breaches

Veriphyr proactively reports impermissible use of PHI the first time it happens.

Mass Overdose Victims

In March 2011, eleven teens and young adults were hospitalized in Minnesota due to an overdose of the synthetic drug 2C-E. There was one death. Predictably, this incident received a flurry of publicity.

Unfortunately, highly public patients are at a higher risk for have their privacy breached. Thirty-two Allina Health employees were fired for snooping in the victims’ records without reason to do so. Twenty-Eight of the employees were from Unity Hospital in Fridley, and four from Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids.

“We take our obligation to protect patient privacy very seriously… Anything short of a zero-tolerance approach to this issue would be inadequate” – David Kanihan, Allina spokesman

The firings occurred one month after the reported incident. According to official statements from Allina, it took that whole month  to investigate the incident. A 2011 Veriphyr survey finds that it takes 25% of hospitals two to four weeks to resolve a privacy breach.


More Recent Cases

In 2008, inappropriately accessed records of pop star Britney Spears and former California First Lady Maria Shriver prompted California to pass legislation calling for fines against hospitals that do not protect patient data (b).

More recently, in 2016, UCLA Health Medical Center in Los Angeles had to conduct an internal investigation into breaches involving the medical records of rapper Kanye West (c).


Employee Snooping

Numerous other hospitals have had to take action against employee snooping. Since 2003, Health and Human Services (HHS) has received upwards of 184,000 complaints. As of June 2018, over 26,000 investigated complaints required corrective action (d).

Veriphyr knows that the majority of patient privacy breaches are the results of employee snooping, and terminated employees are still a risk.

With Veriphyr’s advanced data analytics, healthcare providers can more quickly and more precisely identify patient privacy breaches. Learn from CEO Alan Norquist how Veriphyr does this.



(a) Twin Cities – May 5, 2011

(b) Pro Publica – July 7, 2011

(c) HIPAA Journal – December 26, 2016

(d) HHS Numbers at a Glance – June 30th, 2018