4 Massachusetts Community Hospitals Records Found at Dump

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.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

2 Comments

  • John … This piece needs to be linked to your EHR and HIPAA blog.

    Read the full Boston Globe article. Got a chuckle with this line: “… the attorney general’s office said in a statement it is reviewing “whether there has been a data breach.’’

    Ya think?

  • I might link to it in a future post. There was just too much content on EMR and HIPAA or I would have just posted it there.

    Nice PR statement. Add in the politics and what fun!

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