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Medical Office Documents Discovered in Rock Springs Dumpster

Medical documents containing information about former patients of the College Hill Health Center in Rock Springs, WY., have been discovered in a dumpster.

A statement issued by the Wyoming Board of Medicine says the documents have now been retrieved, but an inventory has yet to be conducted. It is unclear exactly how many patients have been affected, the type of documents that were discovered, or the extent of patient information that has been exposed.

College Hill Health Center has recently been acquired by Memorial Hospital as part of a settlement with the former owner, Dr. Amr Etman. Dr. Etman and the medical center staff were required to vacate the property by July 8 this year, although patients of the health center were allegedly informed that they could collect their medical records in person prior to June 30, 2016., according to the Rock Springs Rocket Miner.

Any medical records which remained became the property of Memorial hospital. Electronic records were turned over to the hospital, and Dr. Etman arranged for the paper medical records to be collected and destroyed, in accordance with HIPAA Rules.

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According to the Wyoming Business Report, 96 boxes of medical files were handed over to a shredding company from Utah on Thursday 14, July. The boxes of files were loaded onto the truck, the door was closed, and a subcontractor for College Hill Health Center – Audrea Walters – signed off the collection. Walters said she saw the truck drive away and claims that there were no more boxes of medical files left in the building.

Since an inventory has yet to be made of the documents, it is unclear what PHI has been exposed. The Wyoming Board of Medicine will be cataloging the documents and will determine which patients have been affected and what, if any, PHI has been exposed.

If state or federal laws appear to have been violated the matter will be passed on to the appropriate authorities. If the Wyoming Board of Medicine determines that HIPAA Rules have been breached, a report will be submitted to the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

The Rock Springs Rocket Miner had previously reported that the documents had been discovered at a landfill site in Sweetwater County, although that information appears to be incorrect. Wyoming Business Report followed up on the story and no one at the landfill site was aware of any medical documents that had been dumped.

The local police department had received a call from an individual who claimed to have discovered the documents in a dumpster at the College Hill Health Center, although an official police report had not been filed.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.