1,700 patient records improperly disposed of at Holston Valley Medical Center

The patient records of approximately 1,700 patients of Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn., were found in a recycling bin, prompting the hospital to issue a data breach notification to patients.

The hospital discovered the records containing protected health information March 1. The records contained notes by a nurse who cared for patients receiving treatment between 1998 and 2007, according to a hospital statement.

Nancy Merritt, chief compliance officer of parent organization Wellmont Health Systems, also in Kingsport, Tenn., said in a WKYT report that the notes were not part of patients' legal medical records nor were they in a public area before being put in the recycling bin. Ms. Merritt said Holston Valley and Wellmont did not authorize these patient notes, or their retention or disposal.

The nurse responsible for these notes has resigned, according to Ms. Merritt.

Holston Valley does not have any indication any personal information has been compromised.

"This is an unfortunate situation, and we want to assure the community this was not an accepted or tolerated practice," said Bart Hove, president and CEO of Wellmont, in the report. "We take our responsibility to preserve patient information in a secure manner seriously and remain committed as an organization to the privacy of those who entrust us with their care."

More articles on data breaches:

UPMC data theft by third-party employee affects 2,200 patient records
MetroHealth cardiac cath lab attacked by malware, 981 patient records compromised
FDA alerts of software security vulnerabilities in Hospira infusion pumps

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