MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin hospital employee fired for accessing the medical records of her estranged son so she could find him has been reinstated after an arbitrator called the punishment excessive. The employee, a 30-year veteran of St. Francis Hospital in Milwaukee, was fired in September after an investigation found she repeatedly accessed her son’s records for personal use in violation of federal privacy law.
"An adult son has the right to determine what, if any, contact he wishes to have with family members; including his mother," she wrote. "There are individuals who are in the business of locating missing persons. Thus, there was at least one means of obtaining the information that she sought which did not involve accessing hospital records in violation of the employer’s rule and HIPAA requirements."
According to testimony in the case, four other hospital employees have been fired for HIPAA violations, including one who browsed records to pass time, and two others have been disciplined. Some of the employees improperly access records as many as 60 times.