Local hospital accidentally releases personal patient information

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AURORA, Colo. -- A possible HIPPA violation has the Medical Center of Aurora offering free identity theft protection to 20 patients for a year.

The hospital gave paperwork about those 20 patients to a fellow patient by mistake.

“I was shocked. I was mad. I was hurt that I had somebody else’s information,” said Karen Billings, the patient who discovered she had other people’s paperwork.

Billings was checking out of the hospital Nov. 22 when she notice paperwork for dozens of patients in her discharge file.

“To look at the fire in the doctor's eye, he was mortified himself,” said Billings.

A nurse took her file, removed the other patients records and Billings went home thinking that was it.

The next day Billings discovered her file still contained seven pages of operating room records for 20 other patients.

“Their date of birth, doctor`s name, procedure that was done, their medication," she said.

Billings called it a huge privacy violation committed by hospital staff. “I wouldn't want my stuff out there," she said.

We spoke to three patients whose information ended up in the hands of Billings and all shared their displeasure about the mishap.

“It’s nobody else’s business,” said Scott Anderson of Aurora.

“I don’t feel good about it at all,” said Thomas Lund of Commerce City.

“That’s not okay, that’s not okay,” added Diedra Newman of Aurora.

All three said they should’ve been notified by the hospital first not the media.

“Why didn't they call me and tell me that your records were released to somebody that shouldn't have them and we apologize?,” asked Lund.

“If the doctor knew about it, the administrators knew about it, the hospital knew about it,  then they should've been proactive instead of waiting, trying to hide it,” insisted Anderson.

Diedra Newman said she’s more concerned that the hospital didn’t immediately own up to the mistake, than the mistake itself.

“They didn't say anything, that`s more of my issue.  They didn't call and say hey, we've had a breach in our paperwork, our filing system," said Newman.

Newman wondered how widespread the problem is.  She said just before her surgery her anesthesiologist told her something disturbing.

“As she was flipping through the papers and asking me information, she said, 'Oh this is not you. This is not you,' and had to pull those (other patient records) out and talk to the nurse and say, 'Why is this in here?'”

“Something's got to be done so it doesn't happen again. That's the bottom  line," said patient Scott Anderson.

In a statement the Medical Center of Aurora said:

The protection of private information is a responsibility we take very seriously.  We were made aware that one day's surgery schedule was mistakenly given to a patient on November 22nd andper policy, our Facility Privacy Official immediately began an internal investigation and we are notifying the affected patients. We are committed to protecting the privacy of our patients and are reviewing internal procedures to determine additional safeguards we should implement.

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