Two employees fired after hospital computer containing PHI is dumped

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Two employees at Georgia-based Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital have been fired after a desktop computer containing information on nearly 6,800 individuals was mistakenly thrown away.

How many victims? 6,777. 

What type of personal information? Names, addresses and medical diagnosis information. Social Security numbers were recorded for 13 people. 

What happened? An employee boxed up her computer while rearranging her office and left the box outside in a locked hallway. A custodian, thinking the box was garbage, threw the box into a dumpster and the following morning the box was gone.

What was the response? Two employees were fired. All impacted individuals are being notified by mail, and are being offered credit monitoring services. Employees are being retrained to ensure a similar incident does not occur.

Details: A police report was filed on Nov. 7. One employee was fired for breaking policy by saving information to the computer's hard drive. The second employee was fired for allowing someone other than an information services staffer to move the computer. There has been no evidence, so far, that the computer was turned on or the information on it was stolen.

Quote: “At this point we do not have any additional information that gives us any sense that the computer will be retrieved,” Audrey Pike, chief compliance and privacy officer, said. “But again we do not have any reason to believe that it has been accessed in any way.”

Source: walb.com, “Two Phoebe employees fired over missing computer,” Jan. 10, 2014.

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