University of Minnesota Changes Data Storage Policy After Mistakenly Releasing Organ Donors’ Names
The University of Minnesota announced this month that it has removed organ donors' names from a database used to send letters to transplant recipients, in response to an incident in January in which a software error caused deceased donors' names to be included in letters to those who received their kidneys, Computerworld reports. More than 400 donors' names were revealed as a result of the mistake. The Citizens' Council on Health Care, a St. Paul, Minn.-based health policy organization that criticized the university after the mistake, expressed support for the university's decision to remove the names. Twila Brase, president of the council, said, "[Donor's names] shouldn't be on a database; it's a breach just waiting to happen." The inadvertent disclosure of the donors' names occurred after a researcher asked a member of the university's IT staff to make changes to the database containing the names. The researcher was using the database to conduct a survey of organ recipients, according to Dick Bianci, assistant vice president at the University of Minnesota. "We have IT people and researchers, and neither of the groups knows what the other is doing sometimes," Bianci said (Sullivan, Computerworld, 2/14).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.