The Investigators

May 16, 2013 1:27 PM by Tom McNamara

Confidential information on Tucson patients found in Tempe

TUCSON - You wouldn't want your personal information blowing in the wind for anyone to find.
But that's what happened to a bunch of Tucson medical patients.

Some of their most intimate information, like date of birth, Social Security numbers and health insurance information apparently just fell from the sky, miles away from here. That's all the information identity thieves would need to destroy a person's credit and finances.

And, the man who says he found it, called the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

"There was a huge wind storm and rain, and I came out the next morning and I found a bunch of paper turned to mush up against the bottom of that fencing."

Paul Preston is a retiree who lives in Tempe, roughly a hundred miles from Tucson.

"And I saw a piece, this piece, laying underneath the trailer which evidently didn't get destroyed."

On that page were the names and personal information of eight people, all patients of one Tucson doctor.

"I have no idea where they came from, how they got here," Preston said.

Paul says the rain apparently made the rest of the papers he found illegible.

"The first thing I thought was "there's somebody's identity, and these people need to know."

We thought so, too. So the News 4 Tucson Investigators contacted some of those on the list, like Deborah Schexnayder.

"Wow. I don't believe it. If you hadn't shown me this, I would not have believed it," Schexnayder said.

Deborah's no longer a patient of the doctor whose list was found. She says this strange find is upsetting to her.

"Yes, you could say it's unsettling."

Here's another patient on the list who doesn't wish to be identified.

This was found during a storm in a yard in Tempe, and it's got your name on there, Social Security number, date of birth, even a little medical information. What do you think?

"I just wish they'd be a whole lot more careful with how they discard paperwork," the patient said.

We won't name the Tucson doctor involved because it is still unclear where the mistake was made, but we do know the company that handles his billing is in Chandler, just a few miles from where the papers were found in Tempe.

We called that company, to see if they could shed some light on what happened.

"Honestly, I don't know. everything that leaves our office is shredded."

The company's director says they use a shredding service that takes discarded paperwork to their facility under lock and key to be destroyed. She says she's now dealing with them to try to solve the mystery and has filed police reports on this matter.

Federal HIPPA laws demand that doctors and other health providers protect your personal and medical information. Many health care providers and the government use your Social Security number to coordinate benefits among different insurance companies.

We'll continue to follow-up on this story to see who mishandled those papers, and we'll keep you posted on what happens next.

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