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Children's clinic accidentally compromises patient data

May 02, 2013
Healthcare IT By LW Consulting Inc.

One of the advantages of hospitals that seek the use of newer technologies can be the way "plugged in" practices become more connected through a shared discovery of their capacities. However, this doesn't mean the extant systems shouldn't be attended to with strict care and given regular security checks, with operators being trained in the best means of use.

HealthcareITnews reported that California's WestCoast Children's Clinic unwittingly revealed the data of a patient last month by sending information to the wrong fax number. According to this source, the problem was due to one operator who apparently failed to perform the established verification procedures and was disciplined because of it.  

The clinic's director of clinical service, Kelley Gin, explained the details of the incident in a letter to the patient affected, who had many intimate details exposed through this occurrence, including different types of sensitive medical history.  

"The unintended recipient notified the sender of the information that the fax was incorrectly delivered and the unintended recipient acknowledged that the fax was shredded," Gin said. "The fax was then correctly delivered."

The security of medical information is of the utmost importance in healthcare IT consulting, and as this incident shows, it's a concern that isn't solely limited to electronic systems. The trusted methods that have long been part of a certain practice could just as easily result in a damaging error if not treated with the utmost care by staff members and professionals. Practitioners of all kinds should take the time to ensure they are correctly following existing regulations and avoiding HIPAA violations.