Company may face charges after trashing medical files

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

Alpharetta police say criminal charges are possible after a moving company dumped hundreds of medical files without authorization.

FULTON COUNTY, Ga - Alpharetta police say criminal charges are possible after a moving company dumped hundreds of medical files without authorization.

Police told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik the 180 files turned up missing from a Self-Storage facility on Highway 9.

“They can contain Social Security numbers, addresses, telephone numbers,” Alpharetta Department of Public Safety spokesman George Gordon said of the files. “That’s a grave concern for us.”

Gordon said the practice manager at Physician’s Pain and Wellness in Cumming called police after an employee went to check on the files and found one file cabinet missing. Gordon said when the practice contacted the Roswell moving company they’d hired to relocate the files, the owner told them he had thrown them away.

“Charges could be forthcoming for the destruction of those medical files,” said Gordon. “If he threw the file cabinet and files into the dumpsters, that’s theft by taking from the storage facility itself."

Physician’s Pain and Wellness sent Petchenik a statement about what happened:

“In late May, the practice investigated an incident that occurred at that time, in which 10-year-old records of former patients were inadvertently placed in the trash by a mover. The mover had no authorization to do so, and in fact the practice had explicitly instructed the mover to move the records which were scheduled to be shredded by a different company.     

Upon discovering that this had occurred, the practice immediately contacted its counsel, began to investigate, and in an abundance of caution contacted the police to report the unauthorized disposal of these closed records. The practice interviewed all persons who might have knowledge of the situation, and determined that the records had in fact been buried in a landfill. 

It is the practice’s opinion that this situation does not present a risk of harm to these patients. Additionally, the practice remains committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of all of its patients.”

Channel 2 consumer advisor Clark Howard said medical identity theft accounts for roughly half of all cases in the U.S. 

He advises against ever putting your Social Security number on medical records.

"One reckless person, one dishonest person, can cause all kinds of problems for you for months or years to come,” he said.