Illinois attorney general to investigate patient record disposal

After a Chicago journalist reported a woman selling patient records she found in a dumpster, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has opened an investigation into a company transferring files for a medical clinic.

The records were found in a dumpster belonging to Filefax, a company that stores and moves hospital records, located in Northbrook, Ill. Full files were left in the dumpster and were located in a car nearby where passersby could easily see the information, according to CBS Chicago. Many of the records belonged to a medical clinic called Suburban Lung Associates, which has six locations in the Chicago suburban area and connections to six major hospitals.

Ms. Madigan launched the investigation, which will be conducted with the support of the HHS and Phoenix-based National Association for Information Destruction. The breach is an isolated incident and involves patient records from 2004, according to the CBS report.

"Suburban Lung Associates, like many healthcare providers, relies on reputable third-party vendors to retain and, when appropriate, securely destroy patient records," Suburban Lung Associates wrote in a statement to CBS. "Suburban Lung Associates' policy with the vendor involved in this situation specifically mandates that all records be destroyed before they are discarded. We are investigating what may have occurred in this instance and are taking further steps to prevent a recurrence."

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