Fawcett said she realized that she needed to prove her theory. So when she found out that her cancer had returned in May 2007, she deliberately withheld the news from nearly all of her relatives and friends.
“I set it up with the doctor,” she said. “I said, ‘OK, you know and I know.’ … I knew that if it came out, it was coming from UCLA.”
Within days of her diagnosis, the news was in the Enquirer. “I couldn’t believe how fast it came out,” Fawcett said. “Maybe four days.”
UCLA began an investigation and quickly found that one employee had accessed her records more often than her own doctors. Fawcett said she asked for the employee’s name, but the senior UCLA official in charge of patient privacy refused, saying, “We have a responsibility to protect our employees.”
“And I said, ‘More than your patients?’ …” Fawcett recalled.
At the same time, Fawcett said, UCLA repeatedly asked her to donate money to the hospital for a foundation to be set up in her name.
The university went so far as to give her a prewritten letter that she could sign and fill in a dollar amount for the foundation, documents show. It also created an official-looking proposed announcement that said, “Ms. Farrah Fawcett has established a fund in the Division of Digestive Diseases with the expansive goal of facilitating prevention and diagnosis in gastrointestinal cancers.”
“They’re acting like nothing happened,” Fawcett said with a laugh. “It’s like, ‘This will make it all OK.’ I felt that all of a sudden, they were trying awfully hard to push it. Too pushy. In other words, it made me suspicious.”
“UCLA Health System considers patient confidentiality a critical part of our mission of teaching, research and patient care,” it said. Blah, blah, spin, blah….
My take: This is what happens when the medical institution is in charge of who can see your medical records. When patients are in charge, except for explicit emergencies, things like this can be avoided.