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Aug 7, 2010 6:36 PM by David Ortiviz

Springs patients alarmed by hospital record breach

Up to 40 hospital patients in Colorado Springs are in a troubling situation. A former employee at Memorial Hospital accessed their medical records apparently for personal use. News First 5 talked with two patients who say they're angry because they say memorial hospital waited several months before telling them about the security breach.

"It was like getting hit in the stomach," said Kim Harris, a patient. Harris got a letter last week from Memorial Hospital. "The purpose of this letter is to tell you about a breach of your protected health information," said Harris as she read the letter.

A former hospital worker accessed files containing Harris's name, address, date of birth, social security number and her complete medical history. "It shocked me. It also scared me," said Harris.

An internal investigation shows Harris wasn't the only victim. Memorial Hospital Systems says between thirty to forty patients were targeted. The hospital sent letters to everyone affected.

In Harris' case, the breach happened in Mid-April. "My biggest concern is why it even took three months for them to notify me," said Harris.

Worried about identity theft and fraud--Harris has filed a police report and she's considering legal action. "My whole civil rights have been violated basically," said Harris.

Memorial Hospital apologized to Harris in the letter and in a written response to News First 5 the hospital says: "Memorial Health Systems takes patient privacy very seriously."

The hospital says last year it investigated 127 allegations of patient privacy violations. The hospital says 15 were founded and as a result ten workers quit or were fired.

Kathie Rawson also had her information accessed by the former hospital worker. In a letter she received, the hospital told her the security breach happened in May. "I was in a panic," said Rawson. Like Harris, Rawson wants to know why the hospital didn't contact her sooner. "The manner and length of time was disturbing to me, I have to protect my identity. It's just un-nerving," said Rawson.

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