Privacy law violation

NEWS10's John McLoughlin reports

Records of more than 1,000 patient visits to an Albany surgical practice have ended up on the internet, in violation of privacy law.

Repeatedly, NEWS10 tried to reach Northeast Orthopedic on the phone Thursday after the Times Union reported that hundreds of Northeast's patient records had somehow gotten onto the internet.

A large surgical group, Northeast told the newspaper that a North Carolina company that handles its records had what the orthopedic practice called a “security lapse”.

Northeast said that the records already had been removed, but as of late Thursday afternoon, NEWS10 easily found a Microsoft Excel file via Google of several hundred Northeast patients, listing the dates of their office visits, a brief description of their ailments and their dates of birth. That file has since been removed.

The Times Union says it discovered even more detailed records for about 300 of the patients; a clear violation of patient privacy laws, despite this pledge of security on Northeast's website.

Internet security consultant Michael Santarcangelo told NEWS10, “I hate to say this, but this is happening more prevalently,”

Santarcangelo is a local man who authored the book “Into the Breach” on the subject of internet security. He says, there is probably no need to worry about this breach, but it is still troubling.

“There are folks who have conditions that they don't want anyone to know about. What if their employer found out about it? What if it got out? Those different kinds of things have implications to it,” Santacangelo said.

Finally, NEWS10 was able to get beyond recorded messages and speak to someone at Northeast.

The female voice on the other line informed us, “At this point, unfortunately, we will not be making a statement. If you would like to contact our attorney you can, but we will be having no comment right now,”

Their attorney also had no comment.

Again, Santarcangelo stresses that there is no reason to panic because it does not appear that Social Security numbers were breached.

NEWS10 spoke with about a dozen of those whose records were leaked online, and a few were quite upset. Most seemed resigned to the idea that these breaches are happening more often.

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