5 Houston area hospitals recover patient medical records found on street

Hundreds of documents containing patients' protected health information and belonging to five Houston area hospitals were recently found on a sidewalk by a KHOU11 employee.

The paper documents included patients' names, dates of birth, diagnoses, treatment, medication lists, vital signs and admission dates. About 1,800 patients' records were affected.

According to The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston — the health system governing some of the affected hospitals — a recent UTHealth medical residency program graduate notified the UTHealth Privacy Office July 24 that his vehicle had been burglarized July 17 and that patient records in the trunk of his locked vehicle had been stolen.

The five hospitals included in the breach are:

  1. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
  2. Memorial Hermann Hospital
  3. Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital
  4. Children's Memorial Hermann
  5. TIRR Memorial Hermann

UTHealth said its investigation found that the documents were recovered by a KHOU11 employee a day after they were stolen, and it made several requests to KHOU11 for the stolen patients records before receiving them Aug. 6. The health system said it learned that while it waited for the original records, the news station made copies.

The station said it contacted the physician and some patients whose records had been disclosed.

"We are grateful to the KHOU employee who found the documents, and we do not believe KHOU has disclosed any of the affected patients’ health information," a UTHealth notice obtained by KHOU11 reads. "We again respectfully request that KHOU return all copies of the records or destroy them without further compromising the privacy and dignity of the affected patients."

More articles on cybersecurity:

Gwinnett Medical Center: Some patient information exposed on Twitter
The effect of mobile, medical devices on hospital cybersecurity: 4 Qs with Emory University Hospital's security officer
Michigan Medicine may have exposed 3.7K patients' contact information during fundraising campaign

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