Living and working Music City, Nashville, TN, I see celebs roaming around town from time to time. A few years ago I frequented the same spin class as Nicole Kidman. My sister-in-law helped Steven Tyler locate an item in the grocery store a few months ago. I unexpectedly shared an elevator with Taylor Swift in a friend’s condo building. And, I once spotted Faith Hill in leopard print stilettos at the movie theater.

I totally enjoy an unexpected celeb sighting, although I don’t consider myself a total gawker. I definitely tell my friends about the experience, but don’t take creepy incognito photos with my phone. Some of my friends can’t help it, and do turn into amateur paparazzi (you know who you are…). Working as a nurse practitioner in the emergency department, however, I have to keep completely mum about any celeb sightings. Not to mention, it’s even illegal for me to even take a peek at their medical records. Thanks, HIPAA

Whether unfamiliar with privacy laws in healthcare, or simply ignoring them completely, there have been a few healthcare providers who couldn’t resist the temptation to take a peek at the health histories of the rich and famous. Here are a few times celeb curiosity led to HIPAA violations

1. George Clooney – In 2007, the famed actor was being treated for injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident at Palisades Medical Center in New Jersey. 27 workers couldn’t resist taking a peek at the hunk’s medical records, and were suspended for one month without pay. 

2. Brittney Spears – We all recall Brittney’s psychiatric hospitalization at UCLA Medical Center in March 2008. What you may not recall is that the hospital fired 13 employees and suspended 6 others who snooped in her files. 

3. Farrah Fawcet  and Maria Schriver – UCLA Medical Center employees just couldn’t keep their eyes to themselves. An employee at the facility was fired after the hospital learned of widespread breaches of privacy. The employee had improperly looked at 61 patients’ medical records, including those of Farrah Fawcet, Maria Schriver, and 31 other high profile patients. The breach was leaked after Farrah Fawcet set up a sting operation to prove her private info was being leaked. The head of the hospital system issued an apology for the ‘rogue’ worker. 

4. Tom Hanks, Drew Barrymore, and Arnold Schwarzenegger – In yet another UCLA scandal, cardiothoracic surgeon and researcher Huping Zhou pled guilty to accessing the medical records of these and other celebrities. He was sentenced to four months in federal prison. 

5. Gabrielle Giffords – Three employees at Tucson’s University Medical Center were fired in 2011 after peeking at Gabrielle Gifford’s medical records. The congresswoman was injured in the high-profile shooting rampage that killed six people. 

6. Kate Middleton – While patient privacy laws may be different across the pond, confidentiality in healthcare still applies. When the then pregnant wife of Prince William was hospitalized for morning sickness, a nurse fell for a prank and issued private health information to a caller claiming to be the Queen.

7. Kim Kardashian – Employees of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center simply couldn’t resist keeping up with this Kardashian. Six employees were fired after improperly accessing the medical records from KK’s hospital stay following the birth of her child in 2013.  

8. Jason Pierre-Paul – A HIPAA violation proved extremely costly for football star Jason Pierre-Paul. An ESPN journalist tweeted a snapshot of the player’s medical record that he received from a friend, indicating the star’s finger had been amputated. After hearing the news, the Giants pulled his $60-million contract offer. 

Bottom line? Avoid the itch to snoop!


You Might Also Like: 4 Best Sites for Keeping Up with Healthcare Legislation 


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