Patient information found on interstate

In the latest patient privacy breach, a woman who noticed lots of paper all over the road while driving on I-30 in Arkansas later discovered two pieces of paper wedged in the grill of her car, Today's THV reports. The pages, which contained patient information, were some 75 miles away from the hospital where they were generated.

"We just thought that somebody had lost a load," Hunsinger said.

The papers included the names of two patients, addresses, the reason for their visits to 170-bed Saint Mary's Regional Medical Center in Russellville, Ark., and their social security numbers.

The revelation is intriguing, because St. Mary's document disposal process involves shredding on-site.

During the video clip of newscast, Today's THV shows the crumpled patient information with the identifying information whited out.

While on the one hand denying that any documents were found on the highway or that other documents might be there, officials at St. Mary's, which is part of the Capella Healthcare system, are taking the claims seriously.

In a statement, it noted that:

  • About 200 miles of interstate have been searched by several entities, but no one discovered any more documents.
  • State police made two runs, but found no other documents.
  • Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department did not report any document spills on the highways.
  • Two document handling companies were not aware of the incident.
  • One of the companies had a search team look along 95 miles of interstate highways, but did not report seeing any papers.

After hospital officials questioned Hunsinger's credibility, she went back to where she found the documents and after hours of looking spotted hundreds of papers along I-40 near Forrest City. The hospital is continuing its investigation.

To learn more:
- read the stories from Today's THV: article 1 and article 2

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