Allina Hospitals and Clinics has fired 32 employees for violating federal patient privacy rules, otherwise known as HIPAA.
The employees, who worked at Unity Hospital in Fridley and Mercy Hospital in Coon Rapids, are accused of viewing the electronic medical records of patients who were treated at the two facilities after a mass drug overdose in Blaine in March. Eleven people were hospitalized in the incident, and one person died.
An audit led to the discovery of the privacy violations, according to Allina spokesman David Kanihan.
"We determined that there were employees who appeared to be accessing records that they shouldn't have been," said Kanihan. "We then started an investigation that led us to the action that we took yesterday."
Kanihan says the employees did not have legitimate patient care reasons to look up the information.
"We take our obligation to protect patient privacy very seriously," said Kanihan. "Our actions in this matter were completely consistent with how we have always dealt with situations of this sort."
The workers -- 28 from Unity and 4 from Mercy -- were not identified. HIPAA rules provide federal protections for personal health information.