Editorial: Missing records case reveals vulnerabilities

From an editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal:

The mysterious case of the missing medical records apparently has been solved, though we think it took Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center too long — six weeks — to disclose its findings. And since this most recent case is the second time in less than two years that medical records have gone missing from the medical center, it would be reassuring to know for sure that the hospital is serious about new training and security measures.

On the one hand, it seems Wake Forest Baptist has had a run of bad luck. In the first instance, in February 2010, confidential information was stolen from an employee’s car. The second time, an administrative employee, Linda Bowden Turner, apparently took medical documents from the hospital over a period of years and stored them at home because she is a hoarder, according to her lawyer.

Read the full editorial on Winston-Salem Journal.

While six weeks is a long time to disclose findings, I would be more concerned about the fact that papers can walk out of the hospital in dribs and drabs for so many years and to such an extent and yet not be noticed at all.  And having worked in a hospital for a while,  I can easily see how that can happen.  Removing patient records or employee records can cause problems for the affected individual even if there is no malicious intent.  But other than searching each employee’s belongings as they leave work each day, what’s a practical solution?

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