He Keeps Patients’ Information Safe and Secure
One in an ongoing series
When actor Jussie Smollett was treated at a Chicago hospital after claiming to have been a victim of a racist attack, dozens of employees lost their jobs because they sneaked a peek at his medical records.
Derrick Crump spends every workday at Einstein Healthcare Network making sure something like that never happens here.
As Einstein’s Chief Privacy Officer, Crump is responsible for enforcing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that protects patients’ medical information from being viewed by anyone other than their medical teams or designated loved ones.
“Our patients entrust us with a lot of information; we want them to know that as an institution, we take it very seriously,” Crump said.
If curiosity gets the best of an employee who sneaks a peek at someone’s chart, he’ll find out. If someone carelessly leaves files face-up so they can be seen by unauthorized people, he’ll find out. If a computer screen is left unattended, or a password is visible, or sensitive patient paperwork is tossed in the regular trash, he’ll find out.
“Unauthorized access is the biggest problem,” Crump said. “I tell people at orientation that this is the quickest way to lose your job – don’t get caught up in the drama.”
Beating a Disabling Stroke
Crump is an easygoing and affable man who’s serious about enforcing the regulations – and who’s endured his own personal drama. He had a massive stroke 12 years ago and, unable to walk and talk, was told life as he knew it was over. He’d never work again.
Crump spent a week as an inpatient and months as an outpatient at MossRehab, Einstein’s nationally ranked rehabilitation hospital. “Everyone was great,” he said of the medical teams who treated him and helped harness his own faith and determination to recover.
“I still have to remind myself to kick out when I walk – bend and kick, which I learned in therapy – or I’ll drag my right leg,” he said. “For most people it’s involuntary, but I have to really think about it.” And other than occasional difficulty recalling names and words – which he thinks could be encroaching age (he’s 52) rather than disability – he’s fine.
From Einstein to Air Force and Back
Crump has a special affinity for Einstein. He was born here. He worked here before his stroke, as the first male practice manager in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
His stint in the U.S. Air Force as a firefighter and a medical transport technician – the equivalent of an EMT – led him to the field of healthcare years ago. He was intent on returning to Einstein despite the grim prognosis he received after his stroke, “to continue serving my community.”
“A doc came in with a stack of disability papers and said, ‘I know you don’t want to hear this, but you’ll never be able to work again.’ I couldn’t even talk, but I shook my head, no,” Crump said. He returned to Einstein 19 months later.
Crump does spot checks all over the network, from hospitals to physician practices, to make sure security directives are being followed. He scours social media for posts that reveal, inadvertently or otherwise, patients’ personal information. He regularly monitors the hospital’s electronic database to determine whether unauthorized people are accessing patient records.
If a patient is particularly high-profile – the six police officers who were treated in the emergency room in August 2019 after being shot, for instance – Crump sets an electronic computer alarm to alert him if anyone tries to access the records.
“There are nosies and busybodies who just can’t seem to help themselves,” Crump said, citing the Smollett case.
He works diligently to make sure that none of them work here.