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Personal Data Stolen from Denver Hospital

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On February 01, 2009 KUSA TV 9 News in Denver, Colorado reported that patient files from St. Anthony Central Hospital were found in a storage unit that did not belong to the hospital. Brandon Michael turned in the documents to 9 News after he had discovered them in a storage unit he had purchased at an auction. Michael’s had initially taken them to the Denver police station but he was turned away by an officer at the front desk who also told him to throw the records in the trash. He then took the records to 9 News.

The 9 News team discovered that the storage unit had previously been rented by Paul Simmons from Denver. Mr. Simmons has a criminal record in Florida which includes grand theft, burglary and dealing in stolen property. It turns out that the personal data found included names, birthdates, social security numbers, credit card numbers and photo id’s of 150 hospital patients admitted to the hospital during a six month period between 2007 and 2008. Many of the patients whose identity had been stolen have recently been the victims of credit card, bank account and photo id fraud. 

St. Anthony Central discovered which employee accessed the information and the hospital has terminated their employment. The Denver Police Department has admitted the officer who turned away Brandon Michael made a mistake. Since the police department recently began an official criminal investigation of the identity thefts, 9 News has given the police the stolen patient files Michael’s provided. St. Anthony Central stated it has contacted the Office for Civil Rights with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding the breach. 

Both the hospital and the police department have admitted that employees have been non-compliant regarding personal identity protection protocol. However, admitting to non-compliance does not protect individuals or organizations from the potential legal penalties and associated fines. 

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