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Workers fired in privacy breach at L.A. hospital popular with stars

Television personality Kim Kardashian arrives at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 13, 2011 file photo. REUT
Television personality Kim Kardashian arrives at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California February 13, 2011 file photo. REUT

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Five medical workers have been fired over a patient data breach at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Los Angeles facility said in a statement, while celebrity website TMZ reported on Saturday that the hacking effort targeted reality star Kim Kardashian.

Cedars-Sinai, a favorite destination for celebrities seeking medical care, said in the statement it has a "high standard for security" and "in this case that standard was violated."

Kardashian, the star of the reality television show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," gave birth on June 15 at Cedars-Sinai to daughter North West, whose father is Grammy-winning rap star Kanye West.

Cedars-Sinai officials declined to say whose privacy had been breached, but the hospital said it "informed the affected patients" and apologized to them.

The breach of 14 patient records occurred between June 18 and June 24, the hospital statement said.

TMZ reported that Kardashian checked out of Cedars-Sinai about a week after she gave birth and was contacted by the hospital and told she was one of the patients whose records were accessed.

TMZ, which cited unnamed sources, said Kardashian's family suspected a leak of information at Cedars-Sinai after media reports disclosed details Kardashian had not revealed to anyone.

Representatives for Kardashian did not return calls or emails seeking comment on Saturday.

The Cedars-Sinai statement said four of the workers who inappropriately logged onto the hospital's information system to access patient records were employees of local physicians with staff privileges at the hospital.

The other workers were a medical assistant employed by the Cedars-Sinai Medical Care Foundation and a student research assistant who was a volunteer, the hospital said. As a result of the privacy breach, the five medical workers with ties to Cedars-Sinai were fired and the volunteer barred from working there, it said.

Cedars-Sinai said that while it had no indication "any criminal acts were committed by the individuals" it was reaching out to law enforcement agencies in "an abundance of caution."

In another high-profile privacy breach at a Los Angeles hospital, authorities in 2008 charged a former employee at UCLA Medical Center with obtaining patient information for commercial gain after she leaked details on the late actress Farrah Fawcett's deteriorating condition. The former worker pleaded guilty later that year.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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