by: Tony Thomas Updated:
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - Thousands of pages of medical documents containing confidential information are back in the control of a local hospital after being dumped across a busy Gwinnett County road.
Drivers say as they approached Buford Highway on North Berkeley Lake Road, it looked like a blizzard of white paper had struck the area.
"The street was just covered in documents," Rod Whittle tells Channel 2's Gwinnett Bureau Chief Tony Thomas.
"You could open your door and literally just pick up documents."
Officials confirm the papers came from Eastside Medical Center in Snellville. A hospital spokeswoman tells Thomas the papers were taken by a vendor to be shredded and the investigation continues into what exactly happened.
"We take the protection of all patient privacy information very seriously. When we were made aware of this situation, we took immediate action to recover the documents. We are investigating this situation and if we find that our patient information may have been compromised we will take action immediately with the appropriate parties," Patti Page writes in a prepared statement.
Whittle was shocked when he picked up a few pages and realized what was on them.
"Patients' names, address, phone numbers, the type of surgery they had, type of medication they were on," he says, "whoever was driving had to see all these documents in the rear view mirror or side view mirror just all over the place."
And just as concerning to some is who wound up collecting all the documents.
Duluth city administrators say a work crew of county inmates under the supervision of the city public works department happened to be doing their normal trash pick-up in the area when they came across the debris and began picking it up. Officials say there is no indication any of them did anything illegal with the documents. The paperwork was placed in garbage bags and given to the Duluth Police.
Even the inmate trustees seemed surprised what they found in front of them. One could be heard saying, "Who is this lacking responsibility? Peoples' IDs, ID copies, fax copies!"
Duluth Police say they investigated and found no criminal wrongdoing and have classified the incident as an accident.