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'Octo-mom' hospital fined over privacy

THE California-based hospital where a woman delivered octuplets in January has been fined US$250,000 after workers pried into her medical records, the first penalty under a new state law prompted by similar cases involving pop star Britney Spears and actress Farrah Fawcett.

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Los Angeles, which made headlines as the place where Nadya Suleman, aka "Octo-mom," gave birth to eight babies on January 26, was fined because it failed to prevent the breach, health officials said on Friday.

"Californians should never have to worry that their private medical information will be improperly shared," said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose wife, Maria Shriver, had her own medical records stolen last year.

"That's why California has put in place strong patient privacy laws to ensure that hospitals, health facilities and individuals are held responsible for protecting confidential information," he said.

Jim Anderson, a spokeswoman for Kaiser Permanente, said the hospital brought the case to the attention of the state and fired an employee as a result. Fourteen others resigned.


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