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Northampton dermatology center improperly disposed of thousands of medical records

  • Medical records at a clinic in Kentucky in 2013.  MCT/Bill Luster



@BeraDunau
Friday, July 20, 2018

NORTHAMPTON — New England Dermatology and Laser Center improperly disposed of the medical records of as many of 16,000 of its patients at its Northampton location, the center revealed to its patients and the media this week.

Steve Ieraci, the center’s executive director, said that the old protocol around medical records at the company’s Northampton location contained a failure at the point of waste disposal.

Medical documents are required by law to be destroyed before being thrown out, with shredding being the method that New England Dermatology and Laser Center uses.

“They must be destroyed to the point that they’re illegible,” Ieraci said.

However, the Northampton documents were thrown out under the old procedures without being shredded.

Ieraci said that the person who set up the defective procedure left the company before this error was discovered. As such, no action is being taken against the Northampton employees, as Ieraci said that they were following a procedure that they believed was correct.

The defective procedure was in place from June 10, 2013, when the Northampton location’s opened, to shortly after the defect was discovered on May 23 of this year.

“Thankfully no,” said Ieraci, when asked if he believed if anyone’s medical information was compromised, noting that no one has come forward with such a report.

He also said that the documents in question contained no financial information or Social Security numbers, as those documents were sent to the Springfield location for further processing. He confirmed that Springfield has a shredding procedure.

Ieraci said that letters were sent on July 17 to all patients who visited the Northampton office during the time the old procedure was in place. The media has also been informed of the breach, in accordance with the law.

“We wanted to completely exhaust the investigation,” said Ieraci, on why it took the time that it did to inform patients.

Ieraci said that most of the customers who have called him following the disclosure have been looking for clarification.

“Most of my conversations have been fairly pleasant,” he said.

He said that he believes the center will be able to regain the trust of the public, saying that most of the people who he has talked to have thanked him as he has apologized.

Ieraci also said that the center is at the beginning of a process around the breach with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Those who wish to contact New England Dermatology and Laser Center about their records can call 1-800-338-8891 or email privacy@nedlc.com.