Hospital Staffers Suspended Over Clooney
Hospital Workers in New Jersey Suspended for Peeking at George Clooney's Medical Info
More than two dozen hospital staffers have been suspended for four weeks after allegedly peeking at George Clooney's confidential medical information after he was hurt in a motorcycle accident, hospital officials said Wednesday.
Clooney, 46, suffered a broken rib and scrapes in the Sept. 21 crash, while his passenger, Sarah Larson, 28, broke her foot. Both were treated at Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen.
No physicians employed by the hospital were among the 27 employees suspended, said Eurice Rojas, the hospital's vice president of external affairs.
The investigation was initiated after an audit of hospital records revealed that employees had looked at the records without authorization, Rojas said. The suspensions began last week and continued this week, he said.
"We conduct audits on a regular basis to make sure our systems are protecting individuals' rights," Rojas said. "We conducted an audit immediately with respect to this situation and that resulted in (the investigation)."
Clooney said he only learned of the suspensions on Tuesday. "This is the first I've heard of it," the actor said in a statement. "And while I very much believe in a patient's right to privacy, I would hope that this could be settled without suspending medical workers."
A spokeswoman for the union representing some of the workers said as many as seven of the employees may have been authorized to view the records.
"While we believe that individuals need to be held accountable if they violated patient privacy, we also believe that the hospital had a responsibility to establish proper systems to protect patient privacy," Jeanne Otersen, a spokeswoman for the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union, said in a statement.
"The hospital instead rushed to judgment and imposed harsh economic penalties, instead of working to prevent future breaches of security," Otersen said.
She added that a grievance could be filed pending further investigation.