Boxes of Records of Today’s Vision Patients and Employees Discovered in Texas Dumpster

What Information is Protected Under HIPAA Law

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Thousands of medical records have been found abandoned in a publicly accessible dumpster in Texas. The boxes contained records of Today’s Vision patients and employees and included highly sensitive information.

Today’s Vision has more than 50 independently owned and operated optometry clinics throughout Texas. Most of the records appear to have come from Today’s Vision in Willowbrook in northwest Houston. The Willowbrook location is no longer operational and was sold to MyEyeDr three months ago.

Dr. Donald Glenz owned and ran both the Willowbrook and Tomball Today’s Vision offices, prior to the sale to MyEyeDr in February. Dr. Glenz is unaware how the files came to be dumped and who is responsible. Dr. Glenz told KPRC that the incident is being investigated to determine who was responsible. Prior to any records being deleted they are usually shredded in accordance with HIPAA requirements but that did not occur in this instance. Today’s Vision executive director Greg Watson described the discovery as ‘disturbing.’

The incident is also being investigated by MyEyeDr and the Department of Health and Human Services is working closely with the police department and is investigating the HIPAA violation.

Over 20 boxes of records were discovered in a dumpster behind the strip mall in Tomball, which is several miles away from the offices where the records were held. The boxes have been recovered by Tomball Police department and are being securely stored.

The records appear to relate to patients who received vision services between 1997 and 2013 and staff who served at Willowbrook location in the same time period.

The types of information in the paperwork include names, addresses, phone numbers, payment information, insurance information, limited health histories, and Social Security numbers. Employee information includes work related information such as resumes, immigration status, vacation requests, payment information, and some personal information.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.

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