Newport Hospital employee finds healthcare documents in parking lot

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A Newport (R.I.) Hospital employee found a stack of papers related to hospital care outside the facility in May, but the hospital said it had no reason to report the breach to patients or authorities, according to an email obtained by WPRI.

An employee manager at the nonprofit health facility sent the email to employees alerting them that "an employee brought me a stack of paperwork she found in the parking lot." The paperwork reportedly included control sheets, ID bands, worksheets and demographic sheets.

"We are fortunate that an employee found them," the email reads, according to WPRI. "This could easily have wound up in the wrong hands or on the news … Please do not leave the facility with [protected health information]."

Providence, R.I.-based Lifespan, which operates the hospital, said its May investigation found no breach of PHI. It has not notified affected patients, the state or federal investigators.

A Lifespan spokesperson told WPRI there was an error in the email it had obtained, and noted the manager who sent it didn't have all the facts. However, the spokesperson did not disclose WPRI what the error was.  

When WPRI asked about the incident and whether the hospital instituted any policy changes or issued any disciplinary actions, the hospital provided the following statement:

"The hospital's internal review determined that there was not a reportable breach of PHI. As such, there was no need to change the hospital's comprehensive policies involving securing PHI. As stated previously, the email cited contained a conclusion that was later determined to be incorrect. While we will not discuss personnel matters, we have responded appropriately in accordance with our policies and procedures."

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