The Dent Neurologic Institute in Amherst, N.Y., experienced a breach of protected health information on May 13 and issued a public notice on May 14, as well as reporting the event to the HHS Office for Civil Rights. It soon will notify approximately 10,000 affected patients and their referring physicians. A clerical error occurred on the 13th in which a list of patients was inadvertently attached to an e-mail sent to 200 patients. Following is the practice’s May 14 notice of the breach:
“The Dent Neurologic Institute (DNI) today disclosed that a clerical error yesterday (May 13, 2013) afternoon resulted in the accidental e-mail distribution of a list containing names and non-clinical information to approximately 200 Dent patients. The list did not contain any medical diagnoses, social security numbers, financial information, date of birth or contact phone numbers. This list is solely used for the purpose of practice updates and educational events and to inform patients and referring physicians.
“According to DNI CEO Joseph Fritz, the error was discovered just after it occurred on Monday afternoon and DNI personnel immediately began calling each of the 200 people who received the list and advised them the information was mistakenly sent to them, it was not intended for them and asked them to delete the email from their computers. As of Tuesday afternoon (May 14), all of the 200 individuals who received the e-mail, have been contacted.
“The list contained the following information: Name, Address, Active/Former Patient, Last Appointment, Scheduling Code, Primary Physician, Referring Physician and Email Address.
“We are very sorry this happened and we deeply apologize to all of our patients, referring physicians and WNY healthcare partners,” Fritz said. “Patient confidentiality is extremely important in our field and we take it very seriously and we will review how this accident happened so we can take steps to minimize the possibilities it could ever happen again. This is an inexcusable event.”
“Fritz said the list was mistakenly attached to a routine e-mail that was being sent to patients by a clerk in the DNI administrative office. “This was a case of human error and the person involved is a dedicated, long-term employee and there was absolutely no malice involved, but that doesn’t excuse it,” he said.
“Fritz said DNI has self-reported the event to the United States Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, DNI will send a letter of apology and explanation to all 10,000 patients and their referring physicians, whose names were on the list.
“Patients who have questions are asked to call the Dent Neurologic Institute at 716-250-2000.”
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