UPMC says patients' records were viewed inappropriately


PITTSBURGH - Officials with UPMC said Wednesday that they plan on alerting more than 1,000 people treated at various locations over the past year that their records were viewed inappropriately.

Officials said they’re sending letters to almost 1,300 patients whose information may have been viewed inappropriately by a UPMC McKeesport employee who wasn’t involved in their care.

“We apologize for any concern or inconvenience that this may cause for our patients. I want to stress that patient care was never affected,” said John Houston, UPMC’s vice president of privacy and information security. “Fortunately, one of our employees who became aware of the inappropriate activity alerted hospital management in early November, and we were able to track and stop this improper behavior.”

Officials said the employee, whose name hasn’t been released, was terminated and local and federal authorities were alerted.

“Additionally, UPMC has notified the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as required by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA),” Houston said.

According to Houston, the former employee accessed patient medical records, including names, dates of birth, contact information, treatment and diagnosis information and Social Security numbers.

“The former employee reported to UPMC that she did not store this information or use it for financial gain,” said Houston. “But out of an abundance of caution, we deemed it appropriate to inform our patients. We suggest that everyone take steps, including credit monitoring, to protect his or her identity.”

UPMC officials said they’re providing addition employee training and will continue to review its privacy policies and procedures.

“UPMC is committed to meeting our patients’ privacy expectations. We will continue to make significant investments in employee training and the best available tools for managing the use of our patients’ electronic records. However, there is no fail-safe system, and we ultimately depend on the integrity, vigilance and honesty of all of our employees,” Houston said.

UPMC is sending letters to patients whose information may have been viewed inappropriately in this incident. Patients who have any questions or concerns can contact the UPMC Office of Patient and Consumer Privacy at 412-647-6286 or check UPMC.com for additional privacy resources.