New Mexico Hospital Medical Records Exposed in the Street

The New Mexico Department of Health is checking why the personal health documents of a number of of its patients fell off a truck while being transported from the facility to the safe storage location.

The documents were taken from Turquoise Lodge Hospital, which is a rehabilitation center managed by the New Mexico Department of Health and specializes in caring for parents and expectant mothers who are recouping from substance abuse.

The hospital made plans for the collection and transfer of patients’ health records to another area for safe-keeping. The files were obtained from the hospital on August 30; during transportation a few of those files fell off the delivery vehicle on Albuquerque street.

KRQE News 13 reporters came to the area and found the health files spread around Avenida Cesar Chavez at I-25. A couple of paperwork were gathered by the public.

The records comprised highly sensitive protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII), which include patients’ names, medical records, payment data, and Social Security numbers.

The New Mexico Department of Health was advised concerning the data breach and sent a service staff to secure the remaining files on Friday August 31, not less than 12 hours after the files fell off the vehicle. It is presently not clear if all the files were saved.

The investigators are still figuring out why the health files were not kept secured while being transported and how they happened to fall off the delivery vehicle. At this time it is uncertain precisely the number of patients had their health data compromised.

When those people are determined, the New Mexico Department of Health will dispatch breach notices via mail. A report will be sent to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights and state attorney general’s office.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA