Oregon State Hospital patients upset over medical data breach by physician

Salem Statesman Journal, August 7 2016

READ – Oregon State Hospital records stolen from chief of psychiatry’s car, April 2012

Eds. Note – We filed a public documents request for the email discussion of this data breach with the Oregon State Hospital on August 13. Our request sat in the spam folder of OSH’s Health Information Manager Joni DeTrant until her boss, Greg Roberts, brought it to her attention on August 29. On September 2, Ms. Detrant sent us a note (PDF) saying the emails were part of a human resources investigation and therefore not available through a public records request. On September 30, she wrote again (PDF) to say the investigation is concluded and the records request will be filled within 30 days.

Patients at the Oregon State Hospital’s maximum security ward report being upset that their private medical information was improperly shared by a hospital psychiatrist.

On June 9, a psychiatrist used a cell phone to photograph a patient census sheet and accidentally sent it to six people, said Joni DeTrant, medical records director at OSH. The census sheet lists patient names, identification numbers, treatment information, legal status, precaution and privilege levels, and includes a photo of each patient.

Patient Douglas Styles, 44, said federal privacy laws are supposed to prevent releasing this kind of information.

“People are pretty upset. They really don’t know what to do,” he said. Styles said he is a patient in the Lighthouse 1 section of the hospital, its maximum security ward, which he said houses about 25 patients.

Hospital officials said patients’ information was not misused. They declined to release the psychiatrist’s name.

The psychiatrist reported the incident, DeTrans said. The six people who received the photo were asked to delete it, and gave hospital officials confirmation that they did.

A letter given to patients said the hospital is reviewing its practices, and the employee has been told not to keep private health information on a cell phone.

Styles, the OSH patient, questioned how the state knows the photo was deleted, and said the incident is a reason employees shouldn’t use personal phones while at the hospital.

“We’ve seen staff with cell phones under their desk accessing their personal information or their emails. They’re not supposed to be doing that at work,” he said.

DeTrant said OSH employees are allowed to use personal phones while working, but need permission to remove any information from the hospital.

The psychiatrist who accidentally sent out the census sheet photo has been retrained on information privacy, she said, in accordance with OSH’s mandatory annual training.