Celebrity Medical Information for Sale – Could Bring Lawanda Jackson 10 Years in Prison

May 1, 2008

What do Britney Spears, Farrah Fawcett and Maria Shriver have in common? Any or all could have had their medical information leaked to the media.

A Los Angeles woman has been indicted for accessing the private medical records of celebrity patients at the UCLA Medical Center and selling information obtained from those files to a national media outlet.

Lawanda Jackson, 49, was indicted under seal on April 9. That indictment, which alleges one count of illegally obtaining individually identifiable health information for commercial advantage, was unsealed this morning.

Jackson, an administrative specialist at the UCLA Medical Center from 2006 until she was terminated on May 21, 2007, allegedly received at least $4,600 from the media outlet in exchange for providing the private medical information. The media outlet paid Jackson by writing checks to her husband, the indictment alleges.

Jackson, who faces a potential sentence of 10 years in prison if she is convicted of the charge, is expected to be arraigned on the felony count on June 9 in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

According to celebnews: “The hospital has a PIN number system that shows who is looking at medical records, but doesn’t have a system in place to stop people from looking at the records. While it would be great to be able to trust all of the hospital’s employees, someone like Lawanda Jackson might just sell the information if they need the money badly enough. The LA Times reports she was $37,300 in debt in 2001, when she filed for bankruptcy.”

“We are deeply troubled that a former employee may have illegally received payments from a news organization in exchange for providing personal medical information,” Dr. David T. Feinberg, the UCLA hospital system’s chief executive, said in a recent statement.

“Meanwhile, we continue to take steps to improve our staff training and information systems to further strengthen the confidentiality of patient records.”

According to cbc.ca: Jackson quit her job as an administrative specialist at UCLA last May 21 after learning she was to be fired.

UCLA also fired several other employees for peeking at psychiatric information about Britney Spears, 10 months after Jackson left the hospital.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, that said, as a business ethics speaker and writer about white collar crime, I would predict that Jackson will get prison time if convicted.

Every choice has a consequence. Every group I address as a speaker will be presented that simple comment. The facts are, your choices will either bring you negative consequences or positive results. It seems that Jackson’s choices were at best unethical and at worst will bring her a conviction and prison.


For now…Business Ethics Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…