Biloxi VA: Patient files may have been exposed - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi VA: Patient files may have been exposed

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

An unlocked office door on the campus of the Biloxi VA Medical Center has opened the possibility of a huge security breach.

"There was an office here on campus that was inadvertently left unlocked and some of the records wound up on the floor. So, we're doing an investigation to find out what happened with that," said Roy Griggs, an official with the Biloxi VA.

More than 1,800 patient files filled with names, Social Security numbers, and medical diagnoses were found spread on the floor of an office at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Biloxi this summer.

VA officials announced Friday that they launched an investigation after learning that an employee's office was "inappropriately accessed." So far, the investigation has found established privacy and information security regulations were not followed.

Veterans, the families of deceased veterans and employees have been sent notification letters. VA officials don't believe the private information was used maliciously, but they are offering credit protection services for one year were offered to Veterans and employees whose information included full Social Security number or full name and date of birth.

Any veteran with privacy concerns can find more information at http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/idtheft/consumers/consumer-publications.html.

"We take our obligation to protect patient information very seriously," stated Thomas Wisnieski, director of the VA Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System. "Protecting Veterans' privacy is our top priority. We provide annual privacy training to all employees and are constantly working to improve how we protect patient information. We are applying lessons learned from this incident to preclude a recurrence."

As required by law, the medical center will report information about this breach to the Department of Health and Human Services for publication on its website.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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