Faxes containing patient data breached from Roper Ho - WCBD-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Charleston, SC

Oregon man receives fax with personal data of patients at Roper Hospital

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CHARLESTON, SC -

Stephen Butler doesn't work in a hospital and says he's never been to a hospital here in Charleston.

He lives on the other side of the country in Oregon.

Yet, Butler claims he has received thousands of faxes filled with patient data from a hospital in Wisconsin. He discovered last week that one of those faxes is from one in Charleston.

"About a year ago I got a fax, that came through my computer, and I couldn't understand why I was getting it," Butler said. "About every other month, I get a stack of patient names."

Butler said one of the faxes came from a number with an 843 area code. News 2 tracked that number to Roper Hospital on Calhoun Street in downtown Charleston.

The man claims United Healthcare sent the fax to Roper asking them if their client was still in the hospital. Butler continued to say that it looks like employees from Roper checked a box if the client was currently under their care.

The faxes he received from Roper was sent on August 1, 2013.

Butler claims the fax contains birth dates, patient identification numbers and the date the patient was admitted into the hospital as well as whether the patient was still admitted.

"It's amazing how much information you can get out of this," Butler said. "With just what I have here, I can open credit cards, I can get into bank accounts. I can do a number of things. I can become that person."

News 2 reached out to the spokesperson with Roper Hospital who said they were not made aware of the breach until Monday.

"We were not made aware of this until contacted by News 2. We are currently looking into this matter," Colleen Cooney said in an email.

On Tuesday night, Cooney said their I.T. department is working to find out how many times hospital officials sent the information to Butler, and how many patients could be involved in the breach. She went on to say that United Healthcare contacted her via email Tuesday afternoon to alert her of the breach.

United Healthcare is also investigating the matter. Officials tell News 2 that they had been working on investigating the Wisconsin hospital since last week, but they did not begin investigating Roper until Monday.

A spokesperson said they are continuing to look into how the faxes were inadvertently sent to Butler.

"We take the protection of our members privacy and personal information very seriously and we are working closely with the hospitals involved to investigate and determine the facts," Tracy Lempner said in an e-mail to News 2.

An official who oversees compliance and regulations for United Healthcare declined to provide a comment for this story.

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