Fort Worth Hospital Notifies Patients from 1980 to 1990 of Potential Records Privacy Issue
07/10/2013

Microfiche records handled by vendor found in public place

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth (Texas Health Fort Worth) announced in July 2013 that they have begun notifying a group of patients about a potential exposure of confidential information. The information was contained on sheets of microfiche that were being handled by an outside vendor. The hospital believes that it is unlikely that the information was accessed or used inappropriately because microfiche is no longer commonly used, and specialized equipment is needed to read the information it contains. However, in an abundance of caution, the hospital is informing patients whose records may have been involved and is providing call center support to all patients and offering contact information for credit protection services to eligible individuals.

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 potential exposure of information occurred when Shred-it, a vendor contracted by Texas Health Fort Worth to securely handle and destroy confidential information, did not destroy Texas Health Fort Worth microfiche as had been agreed to in the contract Texas Health Fort Worth had with Shred-it. Texas Health Fort Worth arranged with Shred-it to destroy microfiche containing patient medical records.

On May 13, 2013, Texas Health Fort Worth learned that a portion of the microfiche it had provided to 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 a thorough 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 of, however in an abundance of caution, the hospital began sending letters to affected patients on July 11, 2013. For more information, please see the Texas Health Fort Worth website at TexasHealth.org/Microfiche-Incident.

To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, 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. Texas Health Fort Worth deeply regrets any inconvenience to its patients.

About Texas Health Resources
Texas Health Resources is one of the largest faith-based, nonprofit health systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas in terms of patients served. The health system includes 25 acute care and short-stay hospitals that are owned, operated, joint-ventured or affiliated with Texas Health Resources. It includes the Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Arlington Memorial, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Huguley hospitals, Texas Health Physicians Group, outpatient facilities, behavioral health and home health, preventive and fitness services, and an organization for medical research and education.

For more information about Texas Health Resources, call 1-877-THR-WELL, or visit TexasHealth.org.