USF Health employee breaches confidentiality

A nurse at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) was fired on June 6 for inappropriately accessing multiple patients’ medical records, including those of her relative, Jennifer Jones.

According to an article in the Tampa Bay Times, USF employee Nadine McNew accessed Jones’ medical records without permission.

Jones gave birth to a baby girl at Tampa General Hospital in 2008 and elected to give the baby up for adoption without notifying family members. In 2010, McNew, Jones’ longtime partner’s aunt, accessed the records of Jones’ pregnancy, created copies and distributed them to family members at the funeral of another family member.

McNew was originally hired by USF Health as a Licensed Practical Nurse in November of 2009. She resigned in August 2012 but was rehired in October of the same year.

In a statement to the Tampa Bay Times, USF Health officials said McNew was granted access to the electronic record system at TGH to arrange for the care of TGH patients by USF physicians.

According to the Times article, Jones contacted both USF, which has a partnership for medical professionals to practice at the hospital, and TGH when she discovered the records of the birth became public, prompting McNew’s firing.

In McNew’s termination letter, USF Health officials warned McNew about releasing any further patient records.

“…You are cautioned that this and any further disclosure of any PHI (protected health information) you may have received associated with this file or any other, could subject you to significant personal liability,” the letter said.

Jones however, is not satisfied with the efforts of USF and TGH officials to rectify the issue. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Jones said the damage is already done.

“I am the one who has to live with the fear of someone telling my children, or just knowing deep down that people that I don’t know very well have a very deep dark secret of mine that I didn’t want them to know. That’s a scary
feeling,” Jones said.

According to the article, neither USF or TGH plans to make changes to their patient privacy policies because of the incident.

— Staff report