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Medical privacy law fails to stop snooping

Des Moines Register, August 18, 2008

A review of state and federal records shows that dozens of Iowa healthcare workers have been disciplined by their employers for snooping through the medical records of HIV-positive men, pregnant teenagers, victims of domestic violence, and emergency-room patients. Not one of them, however, has been prosecuted for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. In the five years since the law was enacted, 38,000 Americans have complained of HIPAA violations to the federal Office for Civil Rights. More than half of those complaints nationally have been disposed of with no investigation, and until last year no one nationally ever was prosecuted for violating HIPAA.