I stopped in my tracks as I crossed the living room to go to hall. I had heard correctly. The news man repeated that there had been a privacy leak at one of our local hospitals. It just so happens that it was one that my oldest son and I have used often. We have numerous health problems that require visits often.
It seems that the hospital had recently become aware of a problem. According to the reporter, administrative reports containing patient information had been disposed of without being shredded. The news had not made a big deal out of it other than to say that we should all check our credit reports often.
My son received a letter in the mail not a week later stating that after efforts to “reconstruct” the reports, they believe that his information may have been included in those that were not shredded. But then they are quick to reassure you that they do not believe that your information has been accessed or used. But then they want to caution him so that he will be aware. Sounds sort of back and forth to me. But then they go on to explain just what happened.
It seems an administrative report was printed, then once printed a member of the staff put it in a location for for later. In case they needed it. According to our letter, it is kept 45 days. The oldest report is discarded daily as one is added. But instead of being shredded as they were discarded, they were put in the hospital waste stream. And yes, the patients personal information, such as the social security number, was in the envelopes.
According to the letter, they have taken action. That is great for those who are not affected but for my son, there is nothing to do but wait. The hospital has taken care of the disposal process. There has been an extensive investigation. They also had a few suggestions for my son and the others involved.
First obtain a copy of your free credit report. Those are available free once a year. They suggest that when you get that, you check your report for any activity that is not yours. Continue to watch for changes in your mail. Also in your credit report. There were also toll free numbers to call for three credit bureaus just in case you need to place a fraud alert on your credit report. That would alert all three agencies to help prevent a thief from opening accounts in your name.
At the end of the letter there was a toll free number in case of questions and of course an apology for any anxiety this might cause you.
I do not know about you but somehow this situation does not surprise me. There are many mistakes being made, some worse than this, in the world or privacy. There will never be enough privacy in institutions such as hospitals. There are just too many people who end up with your information. I have noticed in the last few years the amount of paperwork that seems to have tripled along with the stickers that have my name, birthday and social security number. While I sign so many papers I lose count.
I am afraid that technology has taken us far beyond a place of turning back. Most would say, why would you want to? But I think I would welcome those days when the risks were not so great. I guess it was bound to happen.