Health staff viewed Le’s records

Several Yale University Health Services employees were reprimanded for improperly accessing the medical records of murdered pharmacology graduate student Annie Le GRD ’13.

The employees looked at the records soon after Le, 24, went missing Sept. 8, University President Richard Levin said. The records were sealed shortly after.

YUHS employees need to access electronic medical records to do their jobs, Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said. But federal privacy laws restrict what they are allowed to see.

“There are very strict federal rules about who can access medical records and what purpose they can be put to,” Levin said. “We do try to enforce those but that doesn’t mean we shut people out from being able to get access to those records.”

All YUHS employees undergo training about patient privacy before they start work, Conroy said. The electronic records are regularly audited to detect privacy violations.

“Employees in the medical care facilities would obviously have more access to records than the rest of us,” Levin said. “But on some level you have to trust people.”

Levin said the investigation into the misconduct is ongoing.

YUHS employees were instructed by e-mail not to talk to the press about the investigation, one employee said.

“Really, you should leave me out of this,” the employee said. “I don’t want to lose my job too.”

Of 20 YUHS employees interviewed, 11 declined to discuss the matter, sometimes by referring reporters to YUHS administrators. Nine said they had not heard about the issue.

YUHS Director Paul Genecin said he could not comment because issues pertaining to staff are confidential.

Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel did not return several requests for comment.

Le was last seen Sept. 8 entering the Yale research facility where she worked at 10 Amistad St. Her body was found behind a basement wall five days later, on what was supposed to be her wedding day. The autopsy determined that she was strangled. Raymond Clark III, who worked at Yale as an animal lab technician, was arrested on Sept. 17 and charged with Le’s murder. He is set to appear in court today.

Comments

  • Their Heads on Spikes!

    This should be a firing offense. The community of people who go to the health plan is very small. If we have employees at the YHP looking at our records whenever they feel like it, that really undermines the trust we have to have with them. Can you imagine sitting across from someone at a business meeting who has accessed your medical records? This is outrageous and I hope they are fired–her records (or anyone else’s) are simply none of their effin’ business!

  • Disgusted

    reprimanded? these workers should be fired. i also want to know how we can ensure our privacy. so, have they looked up president levin’s records too?
    i hate employees like this. they should be vilified.

  • disgusted

    It is crystal clear that they should be fired. Not reprimanded. Not suspended. Fired. They knew what they were doing was a violation of the law, not to mention common decency, and did it anyway. Disgusting.

  • anonymous

    They were fired.

  • Concerned YHP member

    One of my concerns as a member of YHP has been privacy of my health records, precisely because Yale is a small community. Any employee who knowingly violated a privacy policy should not be given a second chance– they should be dismissed immediately. What were they thinking? And how often does this happen when there is no audit of record access?

  • matt

    it is a violation of the federal privacy laws to access electonic medical records..the employee’s should absolutly be fired.

  • Alum MD

    Agree with the above. Anybody with access to online medical records already knows the rules. The only deterrent for this kind of thing is to immediately terminate any employees who are in violation. If they are students, they should be placed on leave for a semester and have to take ethics and HIPAA training to be reinstated.

  • anon

    They should be fired and, for the benefit of anyone who might hire them to handle confidential records, the reason for firing them should be made known.

  • Gloria

    This is what makes me nervous about Yale wanting to make all our records electronic. Yale has admitted it is too easy for corruptible employees to have access to our records. All these employees go through HIPAA training, they knew that what they were doing was wrong. They should be fired.

  • Outraged

    I concur with all of the above. They should be fired. Period. This is inexcusable. There should be no pussyfooting around about this.

    “All YUHS employees undergo training about patient privacy before they start work, Conroy said.”

    Well, then, maybe the trainers need to be fired, too, for obviously not doing their jobs adequately; or, at the very least, severely reprimanded.

    Kudos, though, to the administration for getting this out forthrightly, and not trying to hide it.

  • Lifer

    This is exactly why I pay $100/month to have Aetna instead of YHP.

  • ex- YHP med records employee

    Even before the medical records went electronic this was a problem.(actually it happened even more because there was no way to track who was viewing records)
    Everytime a celebrity went to school at Yale it happened.

    This isn’t only at YHP – it’s everywhere.