Hospital employees access files of Pulse victims
49 slain, 53 injured in Orlando nightclub shooting
ORLANDO, Fla. – Within minutes of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, victims were being rushed to Orlando Regional Medical Center because of its close proximity to the nightclub. Orlando Health has revealed that staff members have gained unauthorized access to some of the victim's medical files.
"This instance of team members giving into their personal curiosities violated our policies and steps have been taken internally to discipline those involved," Orlando Health released in a statement.
Orlando Health has not said where the files were accessed or how many employees took part in the breach. The company said on Tuesday that the staff who did view the files had no reasons to do so.
"Numerous team members across our system require access to vital records and information in order to provide our patients with the highest levels of care. All team members are also made aware that they too have a responsibility to maintain our patients’ privacy and protect their personal information," Orlando Health released in a statement.
Orlando attorney Steven Kramer said that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Florida Attorney General's Office investigates cases of reported HIPPA violations.
"While you can't sue under HIPPA, maybe you sue for a intentional infliction of emotional distress or negligent infliction of emotional distress, or an invasion of privacy. That type of cause of action," said Kramer.
Kramer also said that employees caught violating patient privacy laws could not only lose their job, but also be fined more than a million dollars.
"If the scenario changes here and turns out the records were leaked or sold to a tabloid or a news agency, we are in a whole different world," said Kramer. "The rules are very, very strict, and if you are not treating the patient. If you are not in a position where you need to know about that patient, then you don't have business snooping in there."
Kramer adds that it appears Orlando Health is taking all of the right steps in wake of the patient privacy breach.
"They notified the patients that had been affected by this HIPPA violation, they did that without any oversight, without any investigation being initiated, which is the right thing to do, and they've already said they are taking steps to remedy the situation," said Kramer.
Orlando Health has not responded to News 6's questions about how many Pulse victims had their files breached, how many staff members were involved, if they've terminated or plan to terminate any staff members, and if they've been in contact with federal investigators.
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