March 15, 2008 / 12:15 AM / in 10 years

L.A. hospital may fire staff over Spears

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The hospital where pop star Britney Spears was hospitalized in late January for psychiatric evaluation has suspended some employees and may fire others for looking at the singer’s medical records, a source familiar the situation said on Friday.

<p>Britney Spears poses backstage following the Baby Phat 2007 Fall collection during New York Fashion Week February 2, 2007. The hospital where pop star Britney Spears was hospitalized in late January for psychiatric evaluation has suspended some employees and may fire others for looking at the singer's medical records, a source familiar the situation said on Friday. REUTERS/Eric Thayer</p>

The UCLA Medical Center, where Spears was under observation, issued a statement saying that all staff must sign confidentiality agreements and the hospital has “stringent policies to protect patient” privacy.

“When possible confidentiality breaches arise, UCLA immediately launches a1n investigation and appropriate disciplinary action would then be initiated,” said the statement. “Due to the confidential nature of both patient and personnel issues, no further information is available.”

The Los Angeles Times on Friday said UCLA has taken measures to fire at least 13 employees, discipline as many as six more and could take action against six doctors for accessing computers to search through Spears’ medical records.

The source, who asked to remain anonymous, did not know the number of employees affected but said the Times story appeared to be accurate.

The Times cited an organizer for a hospital employees union as saying the group was representing three UCLA Medical Center workers who were told they would be fired.

A UCLA Medical Center spokeswoman said the Times’ source did not come from hospital, but she declined to comment beyond the hospital’s statement.

<p>File photo shows Britney Spears as she leaves the Stanley Mosk Courthouse garage after a child custody hearing with her ex-husband regarding her two sons in Los Angeles, California October 26, 2007. The hospital where Spears was hospitalized in late January for psychiatric evaluation has suspended some employees and may fire others for looking at the singer's medical records, a source familiar the situation said on Friday. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>

Under federal law, only doctors and medical staff directly involved with a patient may work with records.

Spears, 26, was hospitalized twice in January and placed under psychiatric observation both times, but her condition remains a mystery.

Early in the month, Spears was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center after going into a fit of hysterics when representatives of her ex-husband tried to retrieve their two children after a weekend visit with Spears.

The second hospitalization at UCLA Medical Center occurred in late January after police were called to her house, but the reason she was taken to the hospital was never revealed.

Since then, a Los Angeles family court has given her father Jamie Spears control of her personal and business affairs, and she has had only limited visitation with her two sons, Sean Preston, 2, and Jayden James, 1.

But while she is considered unable to care for herself by the court, this week the pop singer has worked on a U.S. television program, “How I Met Your Mother,” and released an animated video of her latest single, “Break the Ice.”

On Monday a hearing in Los Angeles will look into a temporary restraining order against her former, self-styled manager Sam Lutfi.

Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Xavier Briand

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