Search Privacy Violations, Breaches and Complaints
Report ID: PSETS0000110435, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Reported Entity: MOUNTAIN HOME TN - 621
A housekeeper was sorting through the paper recycling bins in the parking lot and found a stack of papers containing patient names, SSNs, dates of birth and a list of medications.
10/17/14: The paper recycling bins were in the parking lot because that is where city employees pick up and empty them. The housekeeping staff roll the recycle bins out the back dock once a week to be emptied by the city's recycling staff. The facility has a contract with the city to pick these up. This particular housekeeper opened one of the other bins and noticed the paper. The bins are usually located throughout the facility and are used for recycling telephone books, and various papers that do not contain personally identifiable information (PII). There are no cameras on the recycling bin when the PII was found. The Privacy Officer (PO) is sorting through the papers in an effort to identify where they came from. The PO has 109 pages, and she is going to sort according to provider, pharmacist, medication and dates. She is sure it was one of the Pharmacists who inappropriately discarded the papers. Pharmacy says they can probably figure it out once the PO can get the sort narrowed down by date. 10/21/14: The Pharmacy is unsure how the papers from the narcotics vault ended up outside the shred box, but they have decided to assign one tech to empty sensitive papers in the shred box. They have asked for a shred box for the vault either to go into the vault or just outside the vault door. It is hard to determine when or where the 109 pages from July have been or why they were just discovered last week. Normally the vault staff put the sensitive papers in the shred box on average once a week. They often catch the shred worker as he comes by and dumps directly into his container. It could have been dropped by the shred company on the way to their truck. He does not keep the container closed in the Pharmacy area when he makes a pick up. He does not always empty every bin in the pharmacy each week. The Pharmacy has several staff members, residents, and students in and out of the pharmacy that could potentially put paperwork in a recycle paper bin or trash in error in times of heavy workload. 10/23/14: There was information on 106 different Veterans, including full name, patient ID number, date of birth, gender, height, weight, name of medication, prescription number, date filled, total quantity, quantity dispensed, how many and how often to take, provider's name and DEA number, clinic name and date of visit, and the name of the Pharmacist who filled it. The bins were already outside when the housekeeper found it. The area is accessible to the public. The bin was inside Pharmacy. Exactly when it was taken to the back dock is unknown. The housekeeper opened the bin that was outside, to see if the city had been by and emptied them, so he could swap full ones out with the empty ones, and discovered that the previous placed bins had not been emptied and noticed the documents containing PII. The city is supposed to come by once a week, on Wednesday. That is also why the housekeeper was checking on that Wednesday to determine if he was ahead of or behind the city's visit. The PO has confirmation that they picked up on 10/01/14, but no true validation for 10/08/14. It is unknown exactly what day the bin went outside and it could have been as early as 10/01/14. It was removed on 10/15/14, so it could have been there two weeks. 10/28/14: The Incident Resolution Service Team determined that the 106 Veterans will receive a letter offering credit protection services.