SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (Legal Newsline) — California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Nov. 22 that Cottage Health System and its affiliated hospitals will pay $2 million after allegations of failing to properly protect patient medical information.

According to Becerra’s office, Cottage Health System did not implement reasonable safeguards to protect the medical information of its patients. Becerra said the hospital system was violating state and federal privacy laws. Specifically, Cottage Health System allegedly violated California’s Confidentiality of Medical Information Act and Unfair Competition Law, as well as the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

The settlement comes after two separate data breach incidents that harmed more than 50,000 patients when their medical information was made publicly available online.

“When patients go to a hospital to seek medical care, the last thing they should have to worry about is having their personal medical information exposed, " Becerra said. "The law requires health care providers to protect patients' privacy. On both of these counts, Cottage Health failed.” .

In addition to the monetary settlement, Cottage Health System agreed to upgrade its privacy practices.

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