“We discovered on February 26, 2014 that an employee in our laboratory was taking lab forms containing patients personal information, and that he may have attempted to use that information to file fraudulent tax returns,” the letter states. The correspondence was dated April 15 and signed by Patti Hatcher, Facility Privacy Officer. It does not state how many people may be potential victims.
Files may have included the name, address, date of birth, social security number, and health plan policy numbers according to the letter. It notes that the type of lab tests ordered and diagnosis were sometimes shown but not the lab results. Flowers Hospital routinely performs laboratory testing for other health care providers.
The letter claims the employee was immediately terminated when Flowers’ management discovered the breach and was later arrested. At this time WDHN/DothanFirst is unable to confirm the arrest after searching federal court documents. An inquiry was sent to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Montgomery seeking comment.
Flowers Hospital Chief Executive Officer Suzanne Woods said she has been asked by law enforcement officials not to share information about the case publicly at this time due to an ongoing investigation. “We will respect their wishes,” she said. The letter notes the case is being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Postal Service.
The hospital is offering a complimentary one year membership in Protect My ID Elite, a fraud prevention service of the credit reporting company Experian, to those whose information may have been stolen. It offers access to credit reports from all three major reporting bureaus and alerts of possible misuse of personal information. It also provides insurance protection from fraud.
Flowers said it has taken steps to increase security even though the stolen files were in a locked area to which only employees have access.
Hatcher, in the letter, said files are now kept in a supervisor’s office that is locked when unattended and is not open to anyone other than the supervisor.
“On behalf of everyone at Flowers Hospital, I want to express how much we regret this incident,” Hatcher wrote in the letter.
Click above this story to download and view the letter.