State officials have fined hospital chain Prime Healthcare Services Inc. $95,000 for violating patient confidentiality by sharing a woman's medical files with journalists and sending an email about her treatment to 785 hospital employees.
The California Department of Public Health levied the fine this month after determining in May that Shasta Regional Medical Center in Redding had five deficiencies related to the unauthorized disclosure of medical information on a diabetes patient treated there in 2010.
Prime Healthcare, based in Ontario, said it had appealed the state's findings and penalties. "Shasta Regional Medical believes that disclosures, if any, were permitted under both federal and state law," company spokesman Edward Barrera said. "Shasta Regional Medical Center is committed to the privacy of its patients."
The disclosures were made when the hospital was seeking to respond to a story published by California Watch, a nonprofit news organization, that featured patient Darlene Courtois and allegations that the hospital was overbilling Medicare. The alleged breach of patient confidentiality was revealed in a Jan. 4 column in the Los Angeles Times.