The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Mattel Children's Hospital in Westwood. Photo by John Schreiber.
The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and Mattel Children’s Hospital in Westwood. Photo by John Schreiber.

A romantic rival took advantage of inadequate cyber security at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center to access and disseminate the private health records of a medical assistant, an attorney told a jury Tuesday.

“This case is about the illegal release of the confidential medical records of Norma Lozano,” her lawyer, J. Bernard Alexander, said in opening statements to a Los Angeles Superior Court jury.

Lozano sued the UC Board of Regents and UCLA in April 2013, alleging invasion of privacy and disclosure of confidential medical information.

The woman who allegedly disclosed the information was not named in the lawsuit. She was a temporary employee of a doctor affiliated with UCLA Medical Center, according to court records.

Attorney Bryan Heckenlively — representing the University of California Board of Regents and UCLA — said that the blame for what happened to the 41- year-old Lozano lies with Dr. John Edwards, a gynecologist in private practice.

The doctor’s temporary employee allegedly accessed Lozano’s medical records in September 2012, made copies with her cell phone and sent them to the plaintiff’s former boyfriend — the father of Lozano’s then unborn child — and another person.

“We can agree, members of the jury, that should not have happened,” Heckenlively said.

The former boyfriend married the woman accused of disseminating the medical records.

Lozano, who works at UCLA, receives her medical treatment there. The doctor in question was not Lozano’s treating physician, but he and all doctors who worked at the UCLA medical center had access to the records of other patients, according to Alexander

Heckenlively maintained UCLA and the regents are not responsible for the actions of the doctor or his employees and that the doctor should not have given his password to his office worker.

Heckenlively also said the measures taken by UCLA to protect patient confidentiality are comparable to those at other medical facilities.

But Alexander said that most of UCLA’s 4 million patients would benefit by the increased protection UCLA now offers only to such people  as celebrities and neuropsychiatric patients. That so-called “break the glass” layer of security requires those attempting to see patient medical records to enter their password a second time and select a reason for viewing them and a record is made of who accessed them, Alexander said.

UCLA instead relies on a flawed system , according to Alexander.

“The evidence will show that the honor system does not work,” Alexander said.

Dr. Edwards testified Tuesday that he did give his staff the password to the UCLA patient data  base.

“I certainly did share the password, yes,” he said.

Asked by Alexander if the decision to share the password was appropriate, the doctor replied, “I don’t believe I thought it through as well as I should have.”

The doctor added that the dissemination of Lozano’s personal information was “not an expected result.”

The doctor originally was a defendant in the lawsuit, but was dismissed before trial, Alexander said.

— City News Service 

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