Fairview Can’t Locate 1,200 Patient Records

The records, which contain health and billing information for patients admitted to Fairview Southdale Hospital, were last seen on February 19, right before a scheduled move to a new location.

Fairview Health Services said that it has misplaced approximately 1,200 patient records during a move to a new office-and notices went out Tuesday to those affected.

On Saturday, February 19, employees of Fairview Health Services-the system under which several local hospitals operate-packed and secured a box of printed reports listing health and billing information for patients who were admitted to Fairview Southdale Hospital between April 2010 and February 2011.

The records were supposed to go to a new office just a few miles away from the Minneapolis office where the records were last seen. But on Monday, February 21, Fairview staffers couldn't locate the box.

“Fairview personnel believe the box arrived in the new secure location but are unable to confirm this,” the health system said in a statement. Under federal law, the system has 60 days to notify patients about a security breach involving their records. Consequently, notification letters were sent out Tuesday to all affected patients.

The missing reports were used to facilitate insurance coverage and claims processing. They include patient names, birth dates, admission dates, insurance company group and member identification numbers, medical diagnoses and procedures, and physician information. “To date, there has been no evidence that any information has been accessed or misused,” according to Fairview.

The reports do not include patient Social Security numbers or any financial information.

Fairview said that its attempts to find the missing records included comprehensive searches of sending and receiving areas and interviews with both employees and vendors.

Fairview is offering all affected patients a free 12-month subscription to an identity protection service. The service will cost Fairview $31 for each person who signs up-or a maximum of $37,200.

“Fairview takes this incident very seriously,” the health system said in its statement. “We are committed to ensuring the privacy and security of our patients' health information. We will continue to investigate this incident, review our processes and make improvements where appropriate.”

Fairview said that it will notify patients “as soon as possible” if the misplaced records are located.

Fairview Southdale admitted more than 21,000 patients in 2009-so the patients affected by the security breach constitute “a fraction” of those admitted, a Fairview spokesman said Thursday.

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