Women & Infants Hospital today announced that on September 13, 2012, the hospital discovered that unencrypted backup tapes containing ultrasound images from two of its ambulatory sites located at 79 Plain Street in Providence, RI and 67 Brigham Street in New Bedford, MA were missing. The hospital immediately began an investigation and conducted a thorough search of its facilities but has been unable to locate the backup tapes.
The backup tapes contained ultrasound studies dating from 1993 to 1997 in Providence and from 2002 to 2007 in New Bedford and included patient names, dates of birth, dates of exam, physicians’ names, patient ultrasound images, and, in some instances, Social Security numbers.
"We have no reason to believe that the information on the backup tapes has been accessed or used improperly," said Elizabeth Fecteau, privacy officer at Women & Infants Hospital, explaining that it would take specialized equipment and technical expertise to access the information on the tapes. "We deeply regret any concern or inconvenience that this may cause our patients."
As a precautionary measure, Women & Infants began notifying affected patients today and is also providing call center support.
While the actual ultrasound images no longer exist, affected patients may be assured that the full report of their ultrasound and its findings remain in their electronic medical record for reference, if ever needed.
Women & Infants has taken steps to prevent an incident like this from happening in the future, including a thorough review of policies and procedures and enhancement of backup tape receipt and storage practices.
For more information, visit womenandinfants.org.