Rhode Island hospital loses ultrasound backup tapes

Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., has begun notifying patients who could be affected by the loss of backup tapes containing ultrasound studies and patient information.

According to a press release from the hospital, on Sept. 13, it was discovered that unencrypted backup tapes containing ultrasound images from two ambulatory sites were missing. The tapes, from sites in Providence and New Bedford, Mass., contained studies dating from 1993 to 1997 and 2002 to 2007. Patient names, dates of birth, exam dates, physicians’ names and, in some cases, Social Security numbers, were included on the tapes.

"We have no reason to believe that the information on the backup tapes has been accessed or used improperly," Elizabeth Fecteau, privacy officer at Women & Infants Hospital, said in the release.

The hospital said it immediately began an investigation and conducted a search of its facilities, but has not been able to locate the tapes. It began notifying patients on Nov. 5, and said that while the actual ultrasound images no longer exist, the reports and findings remain in the hospital’s EMR.