NYC Health Center HIPAA Violation

Mount Sinai Beth Israel Senior Health Center is a New York based institution that is considered of the nation’s most respected medical centers. Doctors and other medical professionals at Mount Sinai Beth Israel offer their senior patients many kinds of important medical services for all of their health needs. Patients have turned to Mount Sinai for help with various kinds of ailments.

Staffers at the center offer preventative care to help seniors reduce the possibility of chronic medical conditions that are common as people age. The center also offers other kinds of services for all of their patients including house calls and access to specialists in geriatric care. They can provide seniors with the peace of mind that comes from knowing they are cared for by professionals interested in their well-being. The Senior Health Center also offers assistance for those who are caring for a loved one with many issues including respite care that helps caregivers get help from the many demands of care giving.

Over the years, people all over the New York / New Jersey / Connecticut tristate area have turned to this center for help with many of their medical issues. The world renowned care offered here has been much lauded by patients and those involved with health care issues.

Apparent Violations of HIPAA

Given the respect that Mount Sinai Beth Israel Senior Health Center has among health professionals and patients, observers were highly startled to learn of a recent report by a local NBC news affiliate. The disposal of medical records is governed by a complex set of rules. HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was passed by the American congress in 1996. This detailed set of regulations is designed to safeguard patient privacy and make sure that doctors and other health officials do not share private medical records with others who are not authorized to see them. The act is aimed at making sure that any confidential medical records are not shared with others unless the patient has expressly consented for their records to be released. Doing so without authorization is considered a violation and may result in serious fines for medical institutions and doctors who violate such rules. All medical records must be supervised at all times. Any attempts to dispose of the medical records must be done carefully to make sure that the patient’s privacy is not compromised in some way.

Unshredded Medical Records

A local NBC affiliate in New York City found that many documents used by the center that included highly detailed personal information, such as patient phone numbers, addresses and complicated medical histories including medications that patients take were not disposed of in accordance with standard medical HIPAA procedures. A local New York viewer contacted reporters to let them know of his findings. He was surprised to be passing by the center when he looked down. Inside of some transparent bags, he could see many documents that were visible to the naked eye. Upon further examination, he realized that the documents could be easily read. He was able to see all kinds of details that clearly pertained to medical issues of all types. This was clearly a violation of medical procedure. Upon further examination, he untied the bags because he felt that something was amiss. He found that the bags contained medical records of all kinds that had not been shredded. He was able to read many pages of documents that included the personal history of patients at the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Senior Center. Documents were clearly visible and contained information that he thought must be obviously in violation of some law.

An Ongoing Investigation

The documents were quickly brought to the attention of officials at Mount Sinai in charge of such matters. Staffers could not provide an explanation for the clearly wrongful disposal of the documents that were shown. Observers believe this to be an ongoing issue, as the person reporting it, Chris Caeser, has reported seeing many similar bags of documents in the past. Caeser reports that he has seen many such bags near the center in the past few months. He lives in the neighborhood and passed by it many times on his way to somewhere else. He felt that it was important to bring this matter to the attention of officials who he hopes will do something about it. Reporters at NBC news show viewers that the documents may compromise patient safety and security. The affiliate contacted one of the patients who was horrified to find that her private medical records were on display for all to see. They are hopeful that officials at Mount Sinai will look closely into the matter and make sure that such records are properly disposed of in the future.

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