Medical Records Discovered in Dumpster, Discarded by Disposal Company

A suburban Chicago company is being investigated for allegedly leaving dumpsters full of discarded medical records in plain view, out of compliance with state and federal law.

In response to a viewer tip, reporters from a Chicago CBS affiliate investigated a claim that Filefax, a company that stores, destroys, and moves medical records, left patient files from Suburban Lung Associates in dumpsters and company cars. The records were not shredded and were left uncovered, and the files in Filefax cars were readily viewable through the windows, according to the CBS report.

The news station interviewed a “dumpster diver” who says she was allowed by Filefax to transport tall, blue garbage cans full of patient records to and from a local recycling facility, where she turns in recyclables in exchange for money. She estimates that she alone transported 1,000 pounds worth of records away from the Filefax office.

According to a statement from Suburban Lung Associates, which hired Filefax as a vendor, this was an isolated incident involving the files of patients from 2004, and it is working with local law enforcement to investigate the matter.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the news station that this incident is “the Holy Grail of what an identity thief is after. It’s just sitting out there in a dumpster, so it’s both illegal as well as just being horrific.”

State and federal officials are investigating Filefax for HIPAA violations. Click here and here to view news footage of this incident.

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