One of the unintended downsides of the EMR

I like EMR’s but realize there’s a downside.  Like this, for instance:

Hospital: 15 fired for looking at octuplet mom’s file –
(CNN) — Fifteen employees were fired for improperly accessing medical records of Nadya Suleman, the mother of octuplets, a Kaiser Permanente spokesman said Monday.

My particular EMR has a feature called ‘breaking the glass’ that requires an acknowledgment and both a user name and password that match to access a record you didn’t start yourself.  It can be a hassle, but hopefully it’ll help cut down on this sort of invasion of privacy.


  1. It may not have been relevent in this case, but one thing that I think should be made into law would be making it illegal to publish information obtained from medical records without the consent of the patient. This might help improve patients’ confidentiality by removing the incentive for staff to peak at celebs records in the first place.

  2. One point overlooked in tallying inappropriate access to EMRs is that such access CAN be tallied. Imagine if Octomom had paper records. Almost any health care worker could enter the file room, take the chart, make copies, and replace it. Nobody knows where the info goes then, and nobody knows who accessed it.

    That is why I always use someone else’s account when trolling records ; )

    • True enough, which is probably why the discipline went to so many people (probably a bunch of discrete logins to that record).

  3. I posted on this same topic. I am also all for EMR’s. However, paper records were not that easy to access. Most primary care givers could spot someone peaking in an actual chart that they had no business looking at. You also had to physically go down to medical records to sign out a chart. I like the idea of only primary care givers having access to EMR’s, especially high profile patients.


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