Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth announced July 11 that the hospital is notifying a group of patients about a potential exposure of confidential information.
This incident did not affect all Texas Health patients. The microfiche was limited to Texas Health Fort Worth patients who were seen from 1980 to 1990 only. The information was contained on sheets of microfiche that were being handled by an outside vendor. Hospital officials say they believe it is unlikely the information was accessed or used inappropriately because microfiche is no longer common and requires specialized equipment to read.
On May 13, 2013, Texas Health Fort Worth learned that a portion of the microfiche it had provided to the outside ventor, Shred-it, had been discovered in a park two days earlier by a local resident who immediately reported the incident to the Dallas Police Department. In addition, three sheets of microfiche were found during that general time frame in two other public areas. Texas Health Fort Worth recovered the microfiche and began an investigation.
The records on the microfiche may have included patient names, addresses, dates of birth, medical record numbers, clinical information, health insurance information, and in some instances Social Security numbers. Texas Health Fort Worth has no knowledge that any of the information included on the microfiche has been accessed or used inappropriately. Shred-it has advised Texas Health Fort Worth that the microfiche remaining in its possession was disposed. However, the hospital began sending letters to affected patients on July 11, 2013.
To help prevent similar incidents, Texas Health Fort Worth and the entire Texas Health System has changed document destruction vendors. Shred-it assured Texas Health Fort Worth it has taken appropriate actions as a result of the incident. For more information: TexasHealth.org/Microfiche-Incident.