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1,800 patient files left unsecured by Tucson Medical Center

The medical records of about 1,800 patients were stored in a unlocked room by Tucson Medical Center for two weeks this summer. Representatives of the healthcare group said no financial information was included, and there is no reason to believe anyone accessed the files.

"Some of the nearly 1,800 files contained patient information, which may have included names, dates of birth, addresses, medical record numbers, insurance ID or Social Security numbers, diagnoses, treatment information, provider information, medications, test results, and other clinical information," TMC spokeswoman Rhonda Bodfield said. "Financial information, such as credit card or bank account information, was not in the paper files."

The suite used for storing the records was found unlocked on July 12; TMC said the room had not been secured since June 27. Bodfield clarified that the documents were not stored at TMC's hospital; "these were not hospital records," she said. She declined to provide the location that the records were being kept at, saying it might confuse patients as to whether their records were potentially affected.

There is "no reason to believe that any patient information was accessed when the files were left in the unlocked room... or that the patient information has been used inappropriately," Bodfield said.

"TMC HealthCare takes this issue very seriously," said Tim Hartin, the hospital's chief legal officer and senior vice president. "We are committed to protecting the security and confidentiality of our patients' information, and we deeply regret any inconvenience or concern this may cause our patients."

From the hospital:

TMC HealthCare has mailed letters to affected patients, has established a dedicated call center to answer questions, and has posted a notice on its website as not all of the files have current addresses.

Eligible, affected patients will be offered one year of complimentary credit monitoring and identity protection services.

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If patients have not received a letter by September 25, 2018 and want to know if their information was affected, they are asked to call 1-877-440-0645, Monday through Friday between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Pacific Time.

TMC HealthCare also recommends that affected patients review the statements they receive from their health insurer, and contact their insurer immediately if they see services they did not receive.

Individuals may also obtain a free credit report directly from each of the three nationwide credit reporting companies annually. To order a free annual report, please visit www.annualcreditreport.com, call toll free at 1-877-322-8228, or directly contact the three nationwide credit reporting companies.

To help prevent something like this from happening in the future, TMC HealthCare is reinforcing training with all individuals responsible for the secure storage and maintenance of paper files containing any patient information.

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