Allina fires 32 who accessed mass overdose victims' medical records

Your medical records are supposed to be private, but that evidently didn't stop 32 Allina Hospitals employees from prying into the business of patients associated with March's mass overdose episode in Blaine.

Allina said today it had fired the 32 for what it called "HIPAA violations." Twenty-eight of them lost their jobs at Unity Hospital and four from Mercy Hospital.

HIPAA refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which is supposed to protect your medical data. It's a bedrock privacy rule.

The Privacy Rule protects all "individually identifiable health information" held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral.

And digital medical records systems like the ones used by Allina are designed to be HIPAA compliant. But the protections are only as good as the integrity of the people who have access to the databases.

That integrity was evidently lacking among the 32 employees Allina fired. They had no legitimate reason to access the victims' records--but did anyway. It's not clear whether they kept the medical data to themselves or told others about what they'd found.

The patients under the care of Unity and Mercy hospitals had all taken part in a spring break party where they overdosed on a synthetic hallucinogen called 2C-E. Eleven of the partiers had to be hospitalized.

One of them, 19-year-old Trevor Robinson-Davis, died. Timothy Richard Lamere has been charged with third degree murder in the case.


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