CREATED Dec. 11, 2012
LEE COUNTY - Invasion of privacy.....Fox 4 finding hundreds of patients' medical records containing sensitive information....just tossed in a dumpster in North Fort Myers. These documents belonging to a medical facility that's now under investigation. Four in your Corner investigator Mike Mason is here now with more.
A Lee County man was looking through a dumpster for cardboard boxes to help him move....that's when he stumbled upon these records. Now those records may become part of a statewide investigation.
Hundreds of patients' medical records thrown in this dumpster at a North Fort Myers strip mall. Patients who visited Luxor Industries on Tamiami Trail now becoming potential victims of identity theft. We found their names, addresses, phone numbers - even social security numbers listed on their medical forms.
Al Haddad: "This is bad, seriously."
The owner of this Dollar Store shocked to see documents from a doctor's office in his dumpster.
Al Haddad: "They have to keep it for 5 years, the Department of Health requires that you have to keep records for 5 years."
Mike Mason: "But they shouldn't dump them in a dumpster."
Al Haddad: "Absolutely not, this is the biggest HIPPA violation and you don't want to get to that."
Not only is this a HIPPA violation, but these records may be potential evidence against the facility. In July, Luxor was raided by FDLE agents....the case still under investigation. We found many patients at Luxor were prescribed numerous pain pills and controlled substances.
Mike Mason: “In one document you can see a patient was prescribed oxycodone, oxycontin and xanax - some serious medications. Here a patient has signed an information release form but I'm sure they didn't intend to have their information released like this”.
This form shows one woman's diagnosis for breast cancer...in these envelopes a number of un-cashed checks to a pain doctor who was apparently paid $1500 every day. In one bag....used syringes.
Al Haddad: "What I have here is worse than ever and I think I have to call 911 or call the Sheriff's Department, or if you're going to do it."
We called the Lee County Sheriff's Office...they sent out a Sergeant to remove the documents. Hopefully these patients who have already lost their records won't also lose their identities.
Al Haddad: "It's not something pleasant to deal with you know, when you have a problem you should deal with it the right way to contain it."
The Sheriff's Office is keeping the documents until FDLE agents can pick them up. Both FDLE and the department of health is investigating Luxor but they won't release details at this point.