UM Health System Has Lost Scores of Patient Records

The University of Miami Health System, one of South Florida's largest health providers, has lost an indeterminate number of patient records, including social security numbers and some health information.

UM Health System has been quietly informing patients of the loss, which was discovered more than six months ago. Spokeswoman Lisa Worley declined to say how large the loss of information is, but it's clear the records included names, birth dates, social security numbers, physician names, insurance company names, medical record numbers, and diagnostic codes.

"Medical records are not at risk, but in an abundance of caution, the University is notifying all individuals whose information was included in the missing records," a written statement by the Health System said. It is also offering complimentary credit-monitoring service and has created a toll-free number for information.

It's unclear how the Health System knows exactly whose records were lost. Worley declined to comment on that.

The records belonged to the Department of Otolaryngology — a fancy word for ear, nose, and throat. The hospital apparently tried to locate the records at an offsite storage vendor last June 27, only to discover they were missing. After an exhaustive, monthlong search, it was confirmed no one knew their whereabouts. Patients learned just last week that their billing information was lost.

"The one thing we expect is that our patient records are going to be kept confidential," says Theo Karantsalis, a New Times freelancer whose son was treated by the department and who received one of the letters last Friday.

There is no evidence the information has been misused. Still, a leaked social security number could put someone at risk for identity theft.

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