Nov 062012
 

Tim O’Coin reports:

Women & Infants Hospital says tapes of ultrasound images and patients’ personal information are missing.

According to a post on its website, the hospital discovered back in September that backup ultrasound tapes at Ambulatory Sites in Providence and New Bedford had disappeared.

The hospital said the tapes also contained patients’ names, dates of birth, and in some cases Social Security numbers.

Read more on WPRI.

The following press release was posted to the hospital’s web site yesterday:

11/05/2012

Women & Infants Hospital today announced that on September 13, 2012, the hospital discovered that unencrypted backup tapes containing ultrasound images from two of its ambulatory sites located at 79 Plain Street in Providence, RI and 67 Brigham Street in New Bedford, MA were missing. The hospital immediately began an investigation and conducted a thorough search of its facilities but has been unable to locate the backup tapes.

The backup tapes contained ultrasound studies dating from 1993 to 1997 in Providence and from 2002 to 2007 in New Bedford and included patient names, dates of birth, dates of exam, physicians’ names, patient ultrasound images, and, in some instances, Social Security numbers.

“We have no reason to believe that the information on the backup tapes has been accessed or used improperly,” said Elizabeth Fecteau, privacy officer at Women & Infants Hospital, explaining that it would take specialized equipment and technical expertise to access the information on the tapes. “We deeply regret any concern or inconvenience that this may cause our patients.”

As a precautionary measure, Women & Infants began notifying affected patients today and is also providing call center support.

While the actual ultrasound images no longer exist, affected patients may be assured that the full report of their ultrasound and its findings remain in their electronic medical record for reference, if ever needed.

Women & Infants has taken steps to prevent an incident like this from happening in the future, including a thorough review of policies and procedures and enhancement of backup tape receipt and storage practices.

For more information, visit womenandinfants.org.

The corresponding notification letter to patients says:

Women & Infants Hospital is committed to protecting our patients’ information. Regrettably, this notice concerns some of that information.

On September 13, 2012, we learned that unencrypted backup tapes containing ultrasound images went missing from two of our ambulatory sites. We immediately began an investigation and conducted a thorough search of our facilities. To date, we have been unable to locate the backup tapes.

Ambulatory Site at 79 Plain Street, Providence, Rhode Island

The backup tapes contained ultrasound images dating from 1993 to 1997 from the Providence location, and included patient names, dates of birth, dates of exams, physicians’ names, patient ultrasound images, and, in some instances, Social Security numbers.

Ambulatory Site at 67 Brigham Street, New Bedford, Massachusetts

The backup tapes contained ultrasound image dating from 2002 to 2007 from the New Bedford location, and included patient names, dates of birth, dates of exams, physicians’ names, patient ultrasound images, and, in some instances, Social Security numbers.

We have no reason to believe that the information on the backup tapes has been accessed or used improperly. It would take specialized equipment and technical expertise to access the information on the tapes. As a precautionary measure, however, we began notifying affected patients on November 5, 2012, and have established a dedicated call center for patients to call with questions. If you believe you are affected but do not receive a letter by November 23, 2012, please call 1-877-810-7928, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 9 pm Eastern Time.

While we no longer have the actual ultrasound images, we assure our patients that the full report of their ultrasound and its findings remain in their electronic medical record for reference, if ever needed.

We have taken steps to help prevent an incident like this from happening in the future, including a thorough review of our policies and procedures and enhancement of our backup tape receipt and storage practices. Again, we deeply regret any concern or inconvenience this may cause our patients

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