by Max Brantley
Three health care workers who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor violations of federal health confidentiality law for looking at the St. Vincent Infirmary medical records of Anne Pressly, received probationary sentences today. Pressly, a KATV reporter, died of injuries from a beating by an intruder in her home about a year ago. Curtis Vance faces a capital murder charge in the death.
All three defendants received one-year probationary sentences and varying fines, payable in installments.
Candida Griffin, a former emergency room coordinator, looked at the records three times. She also was fined $1,500. Sarah Miller, a former accounts representative at a Sherwood branch of the hospital, looked a dozen times. She also was fined $2,5000. Dr. Jay Holland, a physician with hospital privileges, admitted to looking at records after hearing Pressly had died. He was fined $5,000 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service educating professionals on the health privacy act.
Holland, Miller, and Griffin pleaded guilty on July 20, 2009 to misdemeanor violations of the health information privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) based on their accessing a patient’s records without any legitimate purpose.
“We hope that today’s sentencings send the message that the HIPAA protections apply to every person in the community, regardless of their position or stature. Likewise, the penalties for violating HIPAA apply equally to every person with access to protected health information,” U.S. Attorney Jane Duke said in a prepared statement.