20K Patients’ Health Data Exposed Online

Stanford Hospital records viewable for a year
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 9, 2011 12:38 PM CDT
Health workers at the Stanford Hospital.   (Photo: Business Wire)

(Newser) – Confidential medical records of some 20,000 patients at a top hospital were posted online where anyone could see them—for almost a year. Somehow, data for Stanford Hospital’s ER patients moved from the hands of a billing contractor onto a Web site devoted to schoolwork help. The information was posted on the site, called Student of Fortune, in September 2010, a hospital rep tells the New York Times; the spreadsheet was contained in an attachment to a query about graphing.

The data revealed patients’ names, diagnosis codes, billing charges, admission dates, and more—though it didn’t show Social Security or credit card numbers. A patient came upon the posted data just weeks ago and told the hospital; the Web site quickly took down the post. Such breaches are not isolated incidents: Medical data for some 11 million people has been revealed over the past two years across 44 states, government records show. Causes range from wrongly-addressed mail to files left on the subway. Click for more on recent medical data breaches.

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