GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Spectrum Health says it’s notifying the parents of approximately 900 pediatric patients after a personal camera containing patient photos was stolen from a physician’s vehicle.
“Our policy is not to use personal cameras. We have special equipment to do this and this was done outside of our policy,” Spectrum Health Medical Group President Dr. Darryl Elmouchi told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday.
The camera was used by the doctor to photograph patients’ conditions at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital dermatology clinics in Grand Rapids and Lansing, the hospital said. It was stolen from the physician’s car on June 22 and has not been recovered.
24 Hour News 8 asked why Spectrum took so long to notify the public.
“That’s a great question,” Elmouchi replied. “It took us a long time to actually make sure we had all of our ducks in a row in terms of making sure we knew all of the patients that potentially were involved. We had to go back through three months’ worth of records.”
According to a Spectrum Health news release, the photographs were taken between Feb. 15 and June 22 and contained the patients’ names, dates of birth, dates of service and medical record numbers. The hospital says the photos did not contain Social Security numbers or other sensitive financial information, including health plan or insurance card numbers.
24 Hour News 8 asked how patients can trust Spectrum will protect their privacy.
“We have a privacy department,” Elmouchi said. “We pledge to do everything we possibly can to prevent something like this from happening. And we are human and sometimes things happen that we don’t intend, and we will do everything that we can to prevent this from happening again.”
The hospital says the dermatology practice is no longer using personal devices to take patient photos. Cameras used to take pictures in the office are also not permitted to leave the office. Additionally, photos must be downloaded to the patient’s medical record and deleted off of the device immediately.
Spectrum says police have been notified of the situation and the hospital is investigating.
Patients with questions about the incident should call Spectrum Health at 844.689.2875 or go to the hospital’s website.