Failure to shred: radiology service notifies patients of potential breach (update1)

KOLR10/KOZL News reports:

A Springfield medical group that provides radiology services to CoxHealth is telling its patients to watch their personal information.

Litton and Giddings Radiological Associates, P.C. (LGRA) says its janitorial service inadvertently sent patient paper billing records to a Springfield recycling company without first shredding the documents.

The incident involved a business associate’s janitorial service, it seems:

PST Services, Inc., the company that handles LGRA’s billing records, is committed to patient record confidentiality and requires the shredding and destruction of records. However, on August 10, 2012 LGRA learned that a building janitor mistakenly removed documents from the locked shred bin and placed them in a different secured container with other recyclable materials. This locked container was transported to a recycling center where the items were sorted for recycling and, ultimately, completely destroyed. The recycling process is largely mechanized, but recycling facility employees do, at times, manually sort the materials.

Read the full patient notification letter on The notice is also prominently posted on LGRA’s web site. The letter does not specifically enumerate what types of information were included in the billing records, which it should have included. Were SSN’s involved? Insurance numbers? Credit card numbers? The notice says, “However, PST Services cannot identify which patient information or documents were sent to the recycling facility.” Okay, but it could give examples of what types of data might be included in their records.

Update1: Healthcare IT News reports that notifications were sent to about 13,000 patients.

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Has one comment to “Failure to shred: radiology service notifies patients of potential breach (update1)”

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  1. Anonymous - October 23, 2012

    Even though these documents were destroyed, the possibility existed that someone who was not authorized to see them might have. This is why it is vital to use a HIPAA compliant shredding service, as well as locking shredding bins. Why do you think this employee removed the papers, and why did he have access to the locked bin?

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