Private Records Accessed For Personal Reasons

It's not always identity thieves who access your personal information for the wrong reasons. Fact Finders uncovered two unnerving incidents of snooping by trusted guardians of our records.

Jamie Kinkaid got a tip that her medical records had been copied and shared with acquaintances after a date with the former boyfriend of a clinic worker. Jamie speculates on a motive. "I believe it was vindictive in nature."

For Angie Cruz, a different kind of intrusion. Her husband's ex wife has a relative who is an Omaha police officer. Angie learned she, her mom, and her husband all had their license plates run. Angie said, "Someone sworn to protect me set out to get me. That's how it makes me feel."

The officer told Fact Finders the check was on a former roommate in the house where a niece stayed. Angie Cruz is concerned information collected from a "police eyes only" computer was shared. She filed a complaint with the new Omaha Citizen's Review Board.

These are two separate examples of records accessed for personal reasons. If there's proof someone who's entrusted with access to personal records broke that trust they could face misdemeanor charges.

Omaha’s city prosecutor can file under two laws. One carries a $500 fine. The other one could lead to a year in jail. Omaha city prosecutor David Smalheiser tells Fact Finders, "It’s impossible these days to access computers and not leave a footprint, so if you do exceed your authority we're going to find out about it."

Kinkaid and Cruz's cases have not gone that far. Kinkaid asks, "What if someone takes off with my medical information and uses that to their advantage?"

Alegent Creighton Health tells Kinkaid a "worker inappropriately accessed your medical records." As for the Omaha police officer who snooped into Angie's background, the chief states "evidence found a violation of policy on use of police computers." Undisclosed discipline would be recommended.

As for Kinkaid, no matter what happens to the employee who inappropriately accessed her medical records, she'll have a chronic concern. She says, "I don't know what the purpose of getting that information was."

Both women are seeking a criminal investigation into the access of their records. There is an eighteen month statute of limitations on misdemeanors which may affect a state case so they've also filed complaints with the FBI. Since no charges have been filed, we're not naming the police officer or the medical records technician at this time.

Omaha Police sent Fact Finders the following statement.:

"The Omaha Police Department does not allow officers/ employees to use information gained from their employment for personal use and will take necessary action if we determine there has been an abuse of police authority."

Alegent also responded with a statement:

"Alegent Creighton Health takes patient privacy issues very seriously. Whenever a complaint is received, Alegent Creighton Health investigates and responds according to its policies and procedures which are consistent with privacy laws and regulations.
The individual in question no longer works at Alegent Creighton Health."

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