The employees who illegally accessed the private medical records of murdered Yale pharmacology graduate student Annie Le GRD ’13 may lose their jobs, Yale University Health Services Director Paul Genecin said Tuesday.
Shortly after Le was declared a missing person, several YUHS employees improperly viewed her records, University President Richard Levin said Monday. When the records were sealed soon after, an electronic audit found traces of the security breach.
“We do not tolerate breaches of privacy,” Genecin said in a phone interview. “Consequences range up to and can include termination.”
There have been no previous breaches of health records since the electronic filing system was created five years ago, Genecin said. YUHS administrators constantly audit health records for signs of unauthorized access on both a random and a systematic basis, Genecin said. Whenever someone with a Yale health record is a public figure or is mentioned in the media, Genecin said, that record is given special attention for auditing. Genecin said YUHS has a “rolling system” for monitoring its records, meaning there is always an audit in progress.
Genecin added that YUHS employees are trained repeatedly about the ethical and legal issues regarding privacy restrictions and are allowed to access files only when it is absolutely required for their jobs.
“Staff are extremely well-versed on the policy for looking into health records,” Genecin said.
Levin said Monday that an investigation into the breach is ongoing.
A YUHS employee said Monday that she had received an email instructing YUHS employees not to talk to the media about the investigation. Five YUHS employees reached by phone Tuesday said they could not comment.
On Sept. 13, police discovered Le’s body hidden behind a basement wall at 10 Amistad St., the Yale research facility Le was last seen entering five days earlier. An autopsy report determined Le had been strangled to death. On Sept. 17, Raymond Clark III, a Yale animal lab technician who worked in the building with Le, was arrested and charged with the murder. Clark, who appeared in court Tuesday, did not enter a plea.