Raleigh clinic says X-rays were stolen, may have included patient information

Renee Elder reports:

Patients who had X-rays at Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic before 2008 are being urged to keep an eye on their bank statements and credit reports after 17,300 sets of X-rays vanished.

A company the practice hired in January to convert X-ray films to electronic files never returned the materials, according to a letter sent to clinic patients. Instead, the X-rays are thought to have been resold for the value of the silver they contain, said Constance Scott, the clinic’s security officer.

Read more on News & Observer.

A statement on the clinic’s web site, linked from the home page, reads:

In January 2013, Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic (“Raleigh Ortho”) contracted with a third party vendor to transfer old x-ray films into electronic format.  Raleigh Ortho provided the vendor with the x-ray films, but the vendor never provided Raleigh Ortho with an electronic version of the films.  Raleigh Ortho performed an investigation and, during the first week of March 2013, discovered that it had been the victim of a scam.  It appears that the x-ray films were sold to a recycling company in Ohio that harvested the silver from the films.  Raleigh Ortho believes the films were ultimately destroyed.

Raleigh Ortho has taken efforts to notify approximately 17,300 patients that x-ray films belonging to them and taken prior to 2008 may have been included in the films referenced above.  The patients have been further notified that their full name and date of birth would have accompanied the films.  Raleigh Ortho does not believe that any other individually identifiable information was on the x-rays.  Nevertheless, Raleigh Ortho has recommended that the patients remain vigilant by reviewing their account statements and monitoring their credit reports.

Raleigh Ortho no longer has the contact information for some of the patients who may be affected, and is therefore posting this information on its website.  In addition, Raleigh Ortho has notified the major media outlets in the area of this event.

Raleigh Ortho is in the process of reporting this incident to state and federal law enforcement.  Although Raleigh Ortho has not received any indication that patient information has been misused by any unauthorized individual, Raleigh Ortho has no way of knowing whether or how patient information may have actually been used.

Raleigh Ortho Clinic is committed to providing quality care, including protecting patients’ personal information, and has policies and procedures in place to protect your privacy.  As a result of this event, steps are underway to further improve the security of Raleigh Ortho’s operations and eliminate future risk.

Raleigh Ortho appreciates and regrets any inconvenience this event may have caused its patients.  Raleigh Ortho is available to assist the public with any questions or concerns it may have and can be reached at  1.800.358.5735.


Contact: Constance L. Scott, MSN, RN, Privacy Officer

Even having a business associate contract in place won’t prevent a breach if you’ve signed a contract with scammers.  Under the circumstances, it’s puzzling that the clinic declined to name the company, as by sharing their story, they might prevent other HIPAA-covered entities from making the same mistake they made.

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