INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Confidential medical records were found dumped in a public park in Indianapolis.
Police are investigating after one of their officers found the private paperwork inside a dumpster in Broad Ripple Park. Dozens of people use the public dumpsters in the park every day to recycle. Those environmentally-conscious citizens can’t believe what police say they found.
“I think it’s crazy. I would never want my records or my children’s records or parent’s records dumped here at Broad Ripple Park,” said recycler Michelle Rodriquez.
According to the police report, mixed in with the normal newspapers and magazines, an officer found several file folders containing patient information including names, addresses, social security numbers and insurance information inside the dumpsters.
“Nobody wants their information available like that,” said recycler Gary Cravens.
Police cleared out all the medical records overnight.
Still, the state attorney general’s office says Indiana does law require medical records be disposed of properly to ensure confidentiality is protected.
“Obviously someone had medical business and they didn’t want to pay to have them destroyed and thought nobody is looking I’ll throw them in the dumpster,” said Cravens.
Right now, it’s only speculation why someone put the records in the dumpsters.
“We’ve been doing this since 1990, so that’s a long time to get people excited about recycling,” said Indy Parks spokesperson Ronnetta Spalding.
A parks department spokesperson says the city keeps the bins open to the public to encourage recycling. The bins are not monitored around the clock, but people are encouraged to recycle legally.
“There’s not necessarily a way to monitor what’s going in and out. I think we are hopeful people are doing right things and the bins are there for people who want to recycle responsibly,” said Spalding.
“What are you gonna do, have guard out here all night? There’s not much else you can do. It’s too bad,” said Cravens.
“Just use it responsibly. That’s what it’s there for. We could lose it otherwise,” said Rodriquez.
Indianapolis police contacted a local trash company last night to properly destroy of most of the records. Investigators kept three boxes of the files for evidence to try and track down who is responsible.
A spokesperson for the Indiana Attorney General's office released the following statement:
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is working with IMPD and waste or recycling processing companies who may have come into possession of the records to obtain the remaining documents so that they can be properly secured, and so that the AG’s Office can review this apparent breach and assist impacted individuals. The AG’s Office can pursue enforcement actions for violations of HIPAA as well as Indiana’s Disclosure of Security Breach law (IC 24-4.9). The AG’s Office will work with impacted individuals and urge that proactive steps be taken to reduce potential fraud.
Because of the risk of identity theft or other fraud, private individuals who happen upon abandoned records or sensitive personal identifying information are asked to call the Indiana Attorney General’s Office without delay at 1-800-382-5516. The longer that personal identifying records remain unsecured and not in State custody, the greater the potential risk that they could fall into the wrong hands and be misused. By law, the Attorney General’s Office takes charge of such records, and our office has the resources and expertise to assist patients named in such files.
As soon as more details are uncovered we will provide an update so that consumers can better determine whether they may have been impacted in this case.