MidMichigan Medical Center (MMC), Alpena has warned patients of a possible breach of their health information, which might have literally plunged into the hands of people not allowed to see the information.
On the day of November 18, a MidMichigan Medical Center heart specialist shifted patient records from the cardiology office in Alpena without permission. The records were brought to the cardiologist’s automobile in a storage box, however, the box had not been correctly protected.
Near parking lot close to12th Avenue/Chisholm Street, the box fell, dropping the contents on the floor. The documents were scattered by the wind and began blowing around the street.
Many documents were collected by the general public, who notified the hospital that records containing confidential patient information were blowing around the street. The hospital got in touch with police to provide help gathering the documents.
Vice president of medical matters at MMC, Dr. Richard Bates released a statement stating all documents are supposed to have been regained, so the danger to patients is believed to be low. Nevertheless, as it can’t be verified that every record has been regained, patients have been alerted of the possible breach of their PHI.
The causes why the heart specialist, Dr. Christopher Walls, shifted the files from the office is unknown. Nevertheless, shifting files having patient information is a breach of hospital rules, and as a consequence of that breach, Dr. Walls is no more working at MMC.
Roughly 1,900 patients have been alerted of the possible breach, which might have contained names together with addresses, clinical data, and Social Security numbers. As a safety measure, impacted patients have been provided free identity theft safety services.
Bates said, “We take problems pertaining to the safety of our patients’ private information extremely seriously since it’s our duty to safeguard their secrecy. We have thorough procedures and processes in place to discover breaches and to safeguard patients’ rights.”