Is It Easy to Find Information About a Hospital Patient?

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The public does not have access to hospital patient information. Even health care practitioners at a hospital may not access patient information unless they are authorized and involved in the patient's care. The health care system strongly protects patient confidentiality to foster trust between health care provider and patient.

Some of the guidelines in place to protect patient confidentiality include the prohibition of health care providers to discussing their patients' cases in public or even with family members and friends without the patient's permission; holding patient interviews only in private; and checking the authority of other health care providers to receive patient information before disclosing anything. Patient records must always be kept secure from unauthorized or inadvertent access.

In 2013, six medical staff of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center lost their jobs after it was discovered that they inappropriately accessed a patient's medical records. They were not involved in the patient's care. The penalties included a lifetime ban on accessing any hospital's medical records.