University of Montana ‘Accidentally’ Posts Children’s Psychological Records Online
In one of the "most glaring" violations of privacy over the Internet, 400 pages of detailed psychological records of 62 children and teenagers were "accidentally" posted on the University of Montana's Web site last week, the Los Angeles Times reports. The records contained information on doctors visits and diagnoses and in most cases listed patients' names, dates of birth, addresses and schools attended. Most of the patients involved were seen at clinics in Minnesota, as well as in Montana and other states. The Times reports that the records were posted for eight days beginning Oct. 29 and were taken down Monday after a local paper reported that the information was online. University officials said that a student or technical employee may have accidentally posted the records. How many people accessed the records online remains "unclear," the Times reports. University of Montana attorney David Aronofsky said that the patients and medical facilities involved had not been contacted about the privacy breach but would be if "it seems necessary" following an internal investigation. Still, medical records experts say that the school has an "ethical obligation" to notify patients and their families. Daniel Borenstein, a professor at UCLA and former president of the American Psychiatric Association, said, "The least the (university) can do is contact the families and let them know that there was this error and the steps they've taken to correct it." Borenstein added, "That's the danger with having all of these electronic records. If you push the wrong button or put something in the wrong spot on your Web site, it (can mean) immediate distribution of a massive amount of private medical information" (Piller, Los Angeles Times, 11/7).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.