Tossed medical records raise red flags, questions

Private medical records from a York County doctor were found in a public dumpster, and now the state is investigating trying to determine how they got there.

We attempted to contact the York Academy of Surgery, but the phone went unanswered and so to did a lot of questions.

“I am curious as to how they ended up from the physician’s office into this dumpster that the public had access to,” state Rep. Keith Gillespie said.

A local man found 47 medical files with highly private patient information at the York County Incinerator. According to officials, the files are from Dr. R. Dale McCormick and the York Academy of Surgery in Springettsbury Township.

“What’s very concerning is the amount and type of information one can extract from medical records, including a lot of personal information in addition to Social Security numbers,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie said he worked with McCormick in the past and described him as a “professional guy who was well respected in his field and the community.”

The recovered files are now in the hands of the Pennsylvania Department of State. Disciplinary action could be taken against whomever dumped the files.

“There can be action by the board that can include a fine a license suspension or a license revocation,” State Department spokesman Ron Ruman said.

Pennsylvania state law requires physicians to keep patient records for seven years and there is no state level law that specifies how they should be disposed. However, investigators will look to see if further action can be taken under the HIPPA Federal Law that protects medical documentation.

Even though the records include McCormick’s name, it does not mean he had a hand in throwing them away. Officials are working on figuring out exactly how they made it into the public dumpster.

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