SOUTH BEND, Ind (WANE) – How safe are your medical records? Earlier this week WANE-TV exposed a huge gaffe made by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, when it sent the personal medical records of two patients to the wrong man. Since then, we haven’t stopped working to find out how this could happen.
After several days of trying to get a comment from the VA, WANE traveled to South Bend to ask the VA Secretary in person.
On Tuesday, we talked to Fort Wayne veteran Kenneth Hanks. He showed us he received two other veterans’ medical results in the mail, and was worried who may have seen his.
When this was brought up to VA Secretary Robert McDonald while he was visiting the VA location in South Bend, his first reaction was passionate.
“That shouldn’t happen,” McDonald said.
McDonald turned the questions over to VA Northern Indiana Healthcare System Acting Director Jay Miller. Miller said he’s aware of this particular incident.
“We see privacy of utmost importance,” Miller said. “Through a mailing a veteran did receive another veteran’s information. There was no social security number.”
Hanks told us he called the VA when he opened the mail, and talked to a patient advocate whose response was “Oh no not again.” However, Miller maintains that out of the hundreds of thousands of mailings every year, this does not happen often.
“It’s 99.999% in terms of the mailings we do on a day to day basis that don’t impact our veterans in terms of double mails,” Miller said. “This again is an occurrence we are apologizing for, and we’re sorry to the veteran.”
McDonald said after an incident like this, there is an investigation and report made about the source of the problem. Miller said it’s believed this mishap happened at a mailing center in Marion.