- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 16, 2014

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - VCU Health System is warning patients that a mistaken donation could have left their personal information exposed.

A staff member donated compact discs that the health system no longer uses for children’s art projects. Some of the CDs contained patients’ addresses, dates of birth, clinical information, Social Security numbers and other personal information, John Duval, chief executive officer of MCV Hospitals and Clinics, told media outlets.

“What began as a well-intentioned philanthropic effort by a staff member wanting to help turned into a serious mistake that we are working very hard to remedy,” Duval said. “This error brought to light a vulnerability in our system that developed over time and that we are working to correct, and we are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this may have caused some of our patients.”

Health system officials haven’t determined how many CDs were donated but the number likely will exceed 1,000, he said.

“The VCU Health System has revised its protocols regarding media destruction and will redouble its efforts to protect all sensitive information,” Duval said.

Health system spokeswoman Anne Buckley says there is no evidence that any information had been misused.

The CDs were donated from around January 2012 through October 2014. Some CDs have been recovered, Duval said.

“The population that we are concerned about are folks that brought their information in the form of CDs that were referred to us,” Duval said. “Any breach of this type has to presume that there might be individual discs out there that are still readable, so we have the duty to both investigate this to the limits of our ability and then to notify the folks of the risk that their personal health information might have been compromised.”

The health system is providing identity theft prevention services at no cost to affected patients.

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