4 Massachusetts Community Hospitals Records Found at Dump

Posted on August 13, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Yes, that’s right. Medical records just thrown away at the dump. Now that’s what I call some investigative reporting. Here’s the story:

Four Massachusetts community hospitals are investigating how thousands of patient health records, some containing Social Security numbers and sensitive medical diagnoses, ended up in a pile at a public dump.

The unshredded records included pathology reports with patients’ names, addresses, and results of breast, bone, and skin cancer tests, as well as the results of lab work following miscarriages.

Of course, you might be asking yourself how these records were found at the dump. Well, here’s the answer:

A Globe photographer discovered the records July 26 when he was dumping his trash at the Georgetown Transfer Station. When he got out of his car, he said, he saw a huge pile of paper about 20 feet wide by 20 feet long. Upset that the paper wasn’t being recycled, he looked more closely.

The photographer said he saw health and insurance records from at least four hospitals and their pathology groups — Milford, Holyoke, Carney, and Milton — mostly dated 2009. The Globe notified the hospitals. It is unclear how many other hospitals’ records might have been discarded in the dump.

Word is that the records were scanning into an EMR and then dumped the cheap (and illegal) way and that’s how they ended up at the dump. I think unemployment numbers in Boston just increased too since I’m sure someone will be losing their job for this.