Abortion records found in Kansas City metro recycling bin (updated)

A very disturbing breach in Kansas reported by the Kansas City Star:

An Overland Park, Kan., woman made a disturbing discovery Saturday as she dumped her recycling inside a yellow and green bin in front of Brookridge Elementary School: More than 1,000 private abortion records sat in plain view, dumped on top of magazines and newspapers in a possibly serious violation of federal privacy law.

Even a cursory look at the records, most from 2001 and 2002, showed they contained the most intimate and private of information in patients’ own writing.

The records, typically four to six stapled pages, included women’s names, birth dates, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers and emergency family contacts, a spot check indicated. The first page provided the patients’ health history, number of children, term of pregnancy and previous abortions, if any, along with fees paid for the procedures.

Labels scrawled on some documents identified patients as “minor,” meaning the girls were under age. Some said patients had “changed mind” or were “too far” along in their pregnancies.

This appears to be another case of improper disposal of records following the closure of a business:

The patient records are all from a now-defunct clinic, Affordable Medical and Surgical Services in Kansas City, Kan., run by then-physician Krishna Rajanna. They were retrieved by a Star reporter and placed under lock and key, rather than being left out in public.

Reached by telephone Monday at his Overland Park home, Rajanna, who is in his mid-70s, conceded that on Friday he simply threw away the stacks of personal documents he had kept in his home, a few blocks from the school.

“I was under the impression that these would not be seen by anyone,” said Rajanna, who lost his medical license in 2005 and whose clinic closed that same year. “I thought that these would be recycled away just like any other papers.”

Read more Grand Forks Herald.  HHS has already been made aware of this case. But what can – or will – the state do about the dumping of these records?  If the doctor lost his license and closed the business in 2005, that was before certain obligations were enacted. If he’s not doing business now,  what laws currently apply to him?

Update:  Associated Press reports that “Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said he doesn’t expect to pursue a criminal case against Krishna Rajanna.”  He still may have civil charges to face, however.

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