Wisconsin hospital bills erroneously mailed to unauthorized persons

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A system settings error caused financial statements to be mailed to roughly 8,000 people who received care from Wisconsin-based Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County, but an undisclosed number were sent to unauthorized persons.

How many victims? Financial statements were sent to approximately 8,000 people, but it was not disclosed how many ended up in the wrong hands.

What type of personal information? Names, account numbers, dates of service, charges associated with each date of service, and identification numbers for guarantor on the accounts.

What happened? A system settings error caused Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County's outside billing vendor to inadvertently mail the statements.

What was the response? Upon discovery of the incident, Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County opened an investigation and the outside vendor corrected the system settings error. The hospital notified affected persons, as well as published a message in the local newspaper, hospital newsletter and on its website. The hospital is arranging to pick up and dispose of statements that have been mailed to unauthorized persons.

Details: The hospital learned of the incident on Aug. 6. An erroneous setting in the system for Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County's outside billing vendor caused a number of “zero balance” or “aged account balance” statements to be mailed to people who received care dating back to 2001. The letters were sent to the last known address of people responsible for paying the bills.

Quote: “The statements did not contain sensitive or detailed information,” according to the website announcement. “Other personal information, such as Social Security number, date of birth and specific health conditions, were not included in the disclosure.”

Source: memorialhospitaloflafayettecounty.org, “NOTICE OF BREACH OF UNSECURED PERSONAL INFORMATION,” Oct. 4, 2013.

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