Surgeon receives prison sentence for a HIPAA privacy violation

Huping Zhou, a former UCLA Healthcare System cardiothoracic surgeon is the first defendant in the nation to receive a prison sentence for a HIPAA privacy violation. After admitting that he illegally read private electronic medical records of patients and obtained individually identifiable health information without a valid reason, Zhou was sentenced to four months in prison.

According to a Department of Justice press release, on the day in 2003 that Zhou received notice that he was being dismissed from his job, he accessed and read the medical records of his supervisor and colleagues. Over the next few weeks (even after he was formally terminated), Zhou illegally accessed the patient records system 232 times, including reviewing the medical records of several celebrities – Sharon Osbourne, Barbara Walters, Elizabeth Banks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Drew Barrymore, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

For more information on HIPAA and this particular case, please contact Abby Pendleton, Esq. at (248) 996-8510, visit the HIPAA specialty page, or the HLP Website.