Office Cleaners Clean Up on Patient Files
By Steve Levine

Cleaners

So you’ve worked hard to ensure that your staff is trained and all your paper and electronic records are secure and HIPAA-compliant. But what happens in your office after you turn off the lights and go home?

Two Austin men now face federal prison sentences after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, and two others are still wanted as part of an identity theft ring, according to a recent statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. Their targets: patient files lifted when they worked for an office cleaning company that serviced medical practices.

“The defendants then used that stolen information, as well as stolen personal identifying information from other unknown sources, to obtain credit cards and file numerous fraudulent income tax returns seeking over $3 million in refunds from the Internal Revenue Service,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement when the men were arrested and charged in September 2017. “The indictment alleges that the defendants collected over $630,000 in fraudulent income tax return refunds and close to $17,000 from fraudulent credit card transactions.”

The statements do not mention whether the medical practices, their landlords, or any other parties are also culpable for the release of patients’ protected health information.

For more information on your responsibilities to protect patient privacy and for access to tools and best practices, see the Texas Medical Association’s online HIPAA Resource Center.


Last Updated On

July 10, 2018

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Court Cases | HIPAA | Identity theft

Steve Levine

VP, Communication

(512) 370-1380
Steve Levine

A former statehouse reporter, political press secretary, and state agency spokesman, Steve Levine has directed the Communication Division at TMA since 1997. He oversees Texas Medicine, Texas Medicine Today, TMA's media and public relations activities, and the TMA Knowledge Center, website, and social media activities.

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