Thousands of medical records from CHS hospitals exposed after tornado touches down

Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems began notifying patients on April 23 that their protected health information may have been exposed after a March 3 tornado struck the building where up to 2,500 medical records were being stored.

The medical records belonged to patients of Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) General Hospital and Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa. Both hospitals are operated by Commonwealth Health system, which is owned by CHS.

The tornado hit a Stat Informatics Solutions building in Lebanon, Tenn., on March 3. The Waupaca, Wis.-based company provides secure record services for various healthcare organizations, including the two CHS hospitals. Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and Moses Taylor Hospital are under contract with Stat to scan paper documents into the hospitals' EHR system and to securely destroy those records, according to CommonWealth Health's website.

"Immediately following the tornado, efforts were focused on securing the medical records," a CHS spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review. "There were several days where the building was deemed unsafe to enter. Once deemed safe to enter, it took additional days to inventory impacted individuals and coordinate the notifications."

Wilkes-Barre General Hospital and Moses Taylor Hospital were able to confirm most records remained in the remnants of the building. However, personal health information that may have been exposed by the incident included names, Social Security numbers, medical record numbers, account numbers, physician documentation, test results and medications.

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