VA: New protocol for privacy protection after old files discovered with personal info

VA: New protocol for privacy protection after old files discovered with personal info

POPLAR BLUFF, MO (KFVS) - The John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri is announcing new measures to protect the information of previous job applicants, employees, and hospital patients.

Unattended files stored old records was discovered after being moved from one office to a hallway.

There were records of  1,843 job applicants, employees, and veteran patients at the medical center, and emails, applications, lists of patients and some Social Security numbers.  About half of those individuals are now deceased.

According to the VA center, there is no evidence the files were accessed but, hospital administrators are taking immediate action to address the possibility.

"We have established new protocol for circumstances such as these," noted Medical Center Director, Dr. Patricia Hall. "The process will now include two-person verification that no records exist in furniture to be moved."  A locked staging area will also be part of the moving process, Hall said. "Individuals whose names were contained in the box will receive a letter of notification, and those falling into certain categories of cases will be offered crediting monitoring for one year at no charge."

The director has initiated a comprehensive investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the placement of the cabinet in the hall, and the likelihood that protected health information or personally identifiable information was discovered.

"VA places the highest priority upon safeguarding the personal information of our Veterans," Hall added. "When an incident such as this is discovered, we will always immediately take prompt remedial action, such as notification, even if the risk of records compromise is very slight."

Individuals who believe they may have been affected by this incident but have not been notified by VA may verify whether their information was involved by calling: John J. Pershing VA Medical Center Privacy Officer at 1-888-557-8262 extension 54022.

You can also send a letter to the attention of Privacy Officer, 1500 N. Westwood Blvd., Poplar Bluff, Missouri, 63901.

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