Medical Records Found in Dumpster

August 20 , 2007 in Industry News

Pittsburgh, PA

The following is a transcript of a report by Team 4 investigator Jim Parsons that first aired Aug. 20, 2007, on WTAE Channel 4 Action News at 5 p.m.

Medical records supposed to be destroyed were instead tossed in a Dumpster, left for anyone to take.Hundreds, maybe thousands of old medical records from the early 1990s were found, all of them patients of an OB-GYN doctor who has since left the Pittsburgh area, but left his patients’ records behind.

There are so many medical records, they couldn’t all fit in a recycling Dumpster in Washington, Pa., so the rest were left in boxes on the ground.

“I’d really be upset if these were my records laying here,” said Washington resident Karen Quinn. “It has people’s addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers.”

Quinn found the records on Saturday when she tried to leave some newspapers at the recycling box, so she called the police.

“They did come out, but they said they didn’t have no place to store it, and then they tried to call the people that have the Dumpster and left a message with them,” said Quinn.

But by midday Monday, the 10 to 15-year-old records were still there, all of them belonging to former patients of Dr. Kenneth Goodrich, an OB-GYN surgeon who used to have offices in Pittsburgh, Natrona Heights, Leechburg and New Kensington.

WTAE Channel 4 Action News Team 4 investigator Jim Parsons spoke with Goodrich by phone Monday morning.

Goodrich said he has been out of the Pittsburgh area for about three years, practicing in the Scranton area. He said he paid a gentleman last week to incinerate the records, which he said he had in storage. He said he had no idea that the records would instead be dumped.

Alfred Moss is the man who dumped the records at the recycling site. He said a woman who was storing the records for Goodrich paid him to burn them. But instead, he asked a local church secretary for permission to dump them.

“I was paid to clean out the basement of a garage,” said Moss.

Parsons: “If these were your medical records and had your name and Social Security number on them, wouldn’t you be concerned that they’re just laying there like that?”

Moss: “Oh, probably would. Yes.”

Parsons: “But you didn’t think about that when you dumped them off?”

Moss: “No. Didn’t think of it at all. I wasn’t thinking. I was thinking about making a dollar.”

Washington resident Trudy Wise said Moss wasn’t the only careless person in the handling of these records.

“I’ve worked in pharmacies and any little piece of paper, you have to shred them,” said Wise. “You don’t dare throw them out for they’re out for the public to find. There’s Social Security numbers and insurance information in there. There’s just too much that could happen.”

Team 4 spoke with the company that owns the recycling Dumpster. They plan to have the medical records picked up Monday evening and shredded. Until then, Team 4 is not disclosing the exact location of the records.

In the meantime, Team 4 was told that federal agents from the Department of Health and Human Services have launched an investigation into the issue.