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Allina Fires 32 Employees For Snooping At Patient Records

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(credit: CBS) John Lauritsen
John Lauritsen is a reporter from Montevideo, Minn. He joined WCCO-...
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CBS Minnesota (con't)

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By John Lauritsen, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly three dozen hospital workers at Allina Hospitals were fired Thursday after violating privacy rules involving a high-profile overdose case.

Trevor Robinson died in March after he took a drug you can buy over the Internet called 2C-E. Ten others got sick.

Twenty-one-year-old Timothy Lamere is accused of third-degree murder for allegedly handing out the drug at a spring break party in Blaine.

Allina Hospitals fired 32 hospital workers, 28 from Unity and four from Mercy. About 15 of the employees were nurses. The reason for the firings is the same for all of them: Looking up medical information about Trevor Robinson and the other people involved without permission.

“Our actions in this matter are completely consistent with how we have always dealt with these cases. And in our view, anything short of a zero-tolerance approach would be inadequate,” said David Kanihan, spokesman for Allina Hospitals.

Kanihan said Allina does spot-checks and audits on medical records to make sure no one is violating HIPAA laws. That’s what led them to these employees.

“I think they should have been slapped on the hand, but not sent on their way,” said John Robinson, Trevor’s brother.

John Robinson said he doesn’t blame the hospital workers for wanting to know what was going on that night. He thinks that many of them probably live near where his brother overdosed. Now, he believes 32 more people are hurt by what happened to his brother.

“Privacy is important, but at the same time curiosity is…when something close to home happens you want to know,” said Robinson.

Alyssa Ducharme, the mother of Trevor Robinson’s infant son, had a different take but also did not believe the employees should lose their jobs.

“They shouldn’t have done what they did, but it still doesn’t bring Trevor back,” said Ducharme.

Kanihan said Allina Hospitals does have other nurses who are filling in, so they won’t have a staffing issue at either hospital.

A spokesperson for the nurses and hospital workers that were fired said they are not challenging this. The spokesperson added that they simply got caught up in the moment and are now paying the price.

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