Protected health information for more than 17,000 patients of an orthopaedic clinic in North Carolina is at risk, thanks to a silver-mining vendor scam.
Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic announced this week that in January, it had contracted with a third-party vendor to have its old X-ray films converted into an electronic format. The clinic did not name the vendor in its announcement.
After not receiving word from the vendor in January or February, the clinic, in an investigation, determined that the vendor instead sold all of the films to an Ohio-based recycling company for silver harvesting. While full patient names and dates of birth accompanied the films, the clinic said it does not think any other identifiable information was on the X-rays. The clinic also said it believes the films were destroyed after their silver had been extracted.
Several similar incidents have occurred within the last five years, according to MedCity News. In October 2010, for instance, Mount Vernon, Ohio-based Knox Community Hospital turned over four 55-gallon drums of X-ray film to a criminal posing as a recycling company employee. In August of that year, Summit Medical Center in Van Buren, Ark. Turned gave up two 55-gallon film drums to disguised criminals.
In 2009, meanwhile, police discovered two men posing as recycling workers in possession of X-rays from close to 40 medical facilities from Florida to North Carolina, MedCity reported.