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5/24/2010
08:06 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Patient Data Dump Nets Urgent Care Center $50,000 Fine

Here's another egregious example of a health care provider being nothing less than reckless with patient data.

Here's another egregious example of a health care provider being nothing less than reckless with patient data.Last August a Greensboro, NC resident was looking for cans when he found boxes and boxes of unshredded patient data stuffed in a dumpster. The files belonged to a local urgent care center named Prompt Med. According to the North Carolina Attorney General's office about 600 files were recovered that held personal information on 757 people. Some of the information within the records included names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, drivers' license numbers, and insurance account numbers, as well as personal health information.

The Greensboro resident took a sampling of the medical files to a local television station, and after their reporting, the state attorney general's office launched an investigation and announced a settlement and a fine against Prompt Med. From the North Carolina Department of Justice press statement on the imposed fine:

Under the settlement, Prompt Med is permanently barred from improperly disposing of patient records and has paid $50,000, including $26,650 in civil penalties that will go to public schools. The remaining $23,350 will go to fund consumer protection education and enforcement efforts, and to cover the costs of the Attorney General's investigation into the company. In addition, Prompt Med also paid an additional $50 for proper destruction of the illegally dumped records.

At the request of the Attorney General's office, Prompt Med previously reported the incident as a security breach and notified consumers whose information was placed at risk. A security breach happens when records containing personal information are lost, stolen or inappropriately displayed.

Unfortunately, we're seeing way too many similar incidents around the country. In my post from last month, Medical Records Keep Getting Dumped, we covered such record dumping occurring in Monicello, NY, Chattanooga, TN, and Port Lucie, FL.

Even more unfortunate: we're not seeing nearly enough similar fines levied. Let's hope the North Carolina Attorney General's Office sets a new tone going forward.

For my security, technology, and business observations throughout the day, you can find me on Twitter.

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