Hospital fires up to 6 for accessing Pressly’s files

St. Vincent Health System fired as many as six employees last month for improperly accessing the records of Little Rock morning television anchor Anne Pressly while she was a patient at the company’s main hospital, the chief executive confirmed Wednesday morning.

System President and Chief Executive Officer Peter Banko said that while Pressly, 26, was still alive and a patient at St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center in Little Rock, a routine patient-privacy audit showed that as many as eight people gained access to her records improperly.

“Those records were being audited every day,” he said, “and as soon as we learned of a possible breach, we investigated.” All eight were placed on leave pending a swift investigation, which determined that at least two had valid reasons for viewing Pressly’s records, Banko said.

“The others, and I won’t say how many exactly, the rest we terminated immediately on the same day,” Banko said. “I will say it was more than one.” Dismissal was a natural penalty for any breach of a patient’s privacy rights, he said.

“Patient privacy is a matter of law, and it is a matter of policy for us,” Banko said.

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