California has ended its investigation into privacy breaches at UCLA hospitals, where celebrities such as Britney Spears and Farrah Fawcett had their medical records illegally accessed by employees.
Six state reports were released on the matter over the past several monthsthe last one Wednesdaydetailing a widespread practice of workers taking unauthorized peeks at patients' records.
The next step, state officials say, is to ensure UCLA has learned from its mistakes. "Based on the plans of corrections and actions taken by the hospital, we sincerely hope we don't see any further breaches going further," said Kathleen Billingsley, the deputy director for the state's Center for Healthcare Quality.
Billingsley said UCLA hospital workers inappropriately accessed records of 1,041 patients since 2003. The hospital later disciplined 165 employees through firings, suspensions and warnings.
One former administrative employee, Lawanda Jackson, faces federal charges for allegedly selling information from Fawcett's medical records to a tabloid.
The final state report included minimal updates on the investigation. An additional nine employees were found to have inappropriately accessed records of two patients during a review of records between January 2004 and June 2006.
Those cases were voluntarily reported by UCLA to the state, said UCLA Health Sciences spokeswoman Roxanne Moster. She said the hospital has improved its privacy protections, noting that all doctors, staff and medical students were required to complete federal privacy law training this summer.
The records breaches also inspired a law approved this year by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that raised the maximum fine for medical privacy violations to $250,000 from $25,000.