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Allina notifies patients that information was inappropriately accessed

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Allina Health is notifying more than 3,800 patients that their records were inappropriately accessed.

The Star Tribune reports that a medical assistant at Allina's Inver Grove Heights clinic viewed medical records without a valid reason and beyond the scope of her authority.

The hospital says the employee has been fired. The employee had access to the patients' clinical, health insurance and demographic information. The report says the company is offering no-cost monitoring services to make sure they don't suffer financial or other ramifications from the privacy breach.

The Associated Press reports that the assistant accessed the records from Feb. 2010 until last month. Allina said they had the ability to look up clinical information, health insurance information and partial social security numbers.

Allina spokesman David Kanihan said what the worker was trying to accomplish is unclear. He added, "There's no evidence to suggest she was doing this for financial gain."

The Pioneer Press reports that Allina launched its own investigation after a co-worker complained about what seemed to be unauthorized access of records by the medical assistant.

Allina has reported the breach to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Company officials said they are evaluating policies on patient information and examining its computer security programs to prevent it in the future.

Patients whose records were accessed will receive a letter in the mail. Allina says they have set up a phone bank to answer questions.

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