Kate Taylor reports:
St. Vincent Breast Center officials said patient’s health information may have been compromised after they sent around 63,000 letters to the wrong patients.
The letters included patient names, addresses, and in some cases, a reference to a scheduled appointment. Officials said none of the letters included social security numbers, financial information or clinical information.
Read more on WISH-TV.
A notice on the center’s website says:
Despite the Center’s efforts to safeguard patient information, there has been an unauthorized disclosure of certain patient protected health information that included patient names, addresses, and in some cases, a reference to a scheduled appointment.
A substitute notice on the center’s site says:
Substitute Notice – May 15, 2014 Incident
St. Vincent Breast Center
The privacy and security of patient information is of utmost importance to the St.Vincent Hospital and Health Care Center Inc. -Breast Center (“Center”) and we have implemented significant security measures to protect such information. Regrettably, despite the Center’s efforts to safeguard patient information, there has been an unauthorized disclosure of certain patient protected health information that included patient names, addresses, and in some cases, a reference to a scheduled appointment. The information did not include patients’ social security numbers, financial information or any other clinical information.
In order to comply with legal obligations for the closing of their practices, the Indianapolis Breast Center, P.C. and Solis Women’s Health Breast Imaging Specialists of Indiana P.C. (collectively referred to as the “Practice”) entered into an agreement with the Center to transfer medical records of patients to the Center effective December 10, 2013. The Center became responsible for facilitating access to the records.
On May 5, 2014, the Center mailed approximately 63,325 letters intended for prior Practice patients to inform them the Center was available to provide care or to welcome Practice patients who had previously scheduled health care services. Beginning on May 15, 2014, the Center began responding to calls from individuals who received another individual’s letter in error. The Center, working with the cooperation of the Practice, immediately launched a thorough investigation of the matter and found that a clerical error resulted in letters being sent to the wrong individuals.
As noted above, no social security numbers or financial information were included in these letters. There is no evidence to believe that the information has been or will be accessed or used for fraudulent purposes. The Center and Practice have made several attempts to secure correct names and addresses of patients in order to provide individual notice of the disclosure. Unfortunately, it has been determined that the names and addresses used to send the mailings may not be current and cannot be verified. Since correct names and addresses cannot be confirmed, this substitute notice is in lieu of individual notices.
Please be assured that the Center is taking steps to mitigate this incident by notifying affected individuals through this substitute notice, media notice, and destroying all letters that have been returned. The Center is also evaluating and making changes to its patient mailing processes internally and with external vendors to avoid an incident of this nature in the future.
In addition to the steps the Center has taken, affected individuals may wish to consider taking additional steps to protect themselves against any possible fraudulent misuse of their information. If applicable, an affected individual should monitor his or her bank, credit card and other bills/statements in detail for the next year. The affected individuals may wish to obtain a credit report from each of the credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Each credit reporting bureau is required by law to provide a person with one free credit report per year. Affected individuals may contact the credit bureaus utilizing the information below:
Equifax 800-525-6285 www.equifax.com
Experian 888-397-3742 www.experian.com
Trans Union 800-680-7289 www.transunion.com
The Center sincerely apologizes for any inconvenience this unfortunate incident may cause and assures all of its patients that the Center is taking appropriate measures to avoid an incident of this nature happening in the future. Should you have any questions regarding this matter, please contact us at the following toll-free number: 1-877-216-3862.