POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – For the last six weeks, Andrea Scarborough’s phone and fax machine have gone absolutely crazy. “When the fax call comes and I would pick it up and I’d hear the beep, I would hit disconnect. About three minutes later it would start again,” Andrea said.
When she finally hooked up her fax machine, she started getting confidential medical records about complete strangers. “This one is regarding a finger. This one is regarding somebody’s knee,” Andrea explained.
The faxes came from pharmacies, X-ray and imaging companies, and blood labs. They were about patients from Doctor Today, a Polk county walk-in clinic chain.
Andrea discovered a printer’s error put her phone number as the fax number on prescription pads at Doctor Today. “I gave them copies of what I was getting and I said, ‘You need to make it stop,'” she said.
One suggestion Andrea got from the clinic didn’t sit too well with her. “Maybe I could just unplug my phone,” Andrea recalls.
“She doesn’t have to turn her phone off,” said Dr. Jay Wolfson, a lawyer andphysician medical ethicist. “This is highly confidential information.”
According to Wolfson, sending that information to Andrea is a violation of federal law.
Last week the officer manager at Doctor Today told 8 On Your Side staff members were working on this problem. This week confidential patient information continues to end up on Andrea’s fax machine.
According to Doctor Today, the walk-in clinic has received a letter of apology about the mistake from the printer. According to Wolfson, as soon as a doctor wrote a prescription on the pad with the wrong fax number that became a medical and legal document.
“It’s their fault. They have to fix it at whatever expense,” he said.
The single largest source of identity theft in the United States comes from breached health records, Wolfson said.
Doctor Today also told 8 On Your Side they’d contacted the patients involved. We tracked down Cynthia Baker. She hadn’t been contacted and she is not happy.
“I will get a hold of the doctor’s office and I know I’ll be changing my doctor,” Cynthia said.
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