The Kansas City Star reports on a data-security breach in Kansas that affects the medical information of women who had abortions:
An Overland Park woman made a disturbing discovery Saturday as she dumped her recycling inside a yellow and green bin in front of Brookridge Elementary School: More than 1,000 private abortion records sat in plain view, tossed on top of magazines and newspapers in a possibly serious violation of federal privacy law. […]
The records, typically four to six stapled pages, included women’s names, birth dates, telephone numbers, Social Security numbers and emergency family contacts, a spot check indicated. The first page provided the patients’ health history, number of children, term of pregnancy and previous abortions, if any, along with fees paid for the procedures.
Labels scrawled on some documents identified patients as “minor,” meaning the girls were under age. Some said patients had “changed mind” or were “too far” along in their pregnancies.
A scan of records revealed home addresses from most every county in the Kansas City area and beyond, from Topeka to Freeman, Mo.
Outraged, the woman who saw the documents called the Overland Park police, who did not respond, and then called her daughter, a 45-year-old nurse with more than 20 years’ experience, who contacted The Kansas City Star. […]
The Overland Park Police Department conceded it erred Saturday in not immediately responding to the call. […]
By Monday afternoon, law enforcement and state agencies, including the Overland Park police, Johnson County district attorney’s office and the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, were seeking information about the documents and their safekeeping. Overland Park police said they were investigating.
Read the full story to learn what clinic the files came from and how they ended up in the trash and the possible violation of federal privacy laws to protect patients.