ALBANY, Ga. — Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital officials say that patient information, including Social Security numbers, may have been stolen and misused by a former employee.
In a news release Friday, hospital officials say that patients at Phoebe Home Health may have had their Social Security numbers, birth dates and other personal information compromised by former nurse Melody Milton in April. The information that is believed to have been compromised is believed to be non-medical in nature.
Milton is accused of aiding others in a scheme in which the identities of area people were stolen and used to acquire more than $1.1 million through the filing of false tax returns, according to the U.S. Secret Service.
Secret Service officials, in an affidavit attached to a criminal complaint against Milton, said that about 50 pieces of mail addressed to other people were sent from the U.S. Treasury or Internal Revenue Service to an Albany post office box rented by Milton, who also is known as Melody B. Greene.
The affidavit filed by Secret Service Senior Special Agent James M. Maddux states that an individual whose name was redacted from the document deposited about 200 U.S. Treasury checks totaling $1.1 million into an Albany bank account last December.
Phoebe officials said they believed the incident was isolated to Phoebe Home Health patients treated between July 2005 and April 2012. People who are believed to have been impacted were mailed notification letters Thursday and been offered a year of free credit monitoring services, hospital officials said.
“The privacy, security and safety of the Phoebe Putney community and the patient information it maintains are a top priority,” Brad Hallford, Phoebe vice president of compliance, said in the release. “The hospital has taken the necessary steps to reinforce and refine staff procedures, so that patient information is less vulnerable in the future.”
The hospital issued the following press release:
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital Informs Patients of Incident Related to Patient Information
(Albany, GA) – Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (“PPMH”) announced today that on April 9, 2012, it learned from law enforcement that a now former employee improperly accessed patient information with the intent to process fraudulent tax returns. After completing a through internal investigation, it was determined that some patient names, dates of birth, and social security numbers were potentially accessed some time between June 2010 and April 2012. No medical records were accessed or taken, and no medical information has been lost.
This incident affected Phoebe Home Health patients treated between July 2005 and April 2012. The hospital began mailing notification letters on May 24 to individuals who may have been affected, offering a year of credit monitoring services and providing them call center support. More information can also be found online at www.phoebeputney.com.
“The privacy, security and safety of the Phoebe Putney community and the patient information it maintains are a top priority,” said Brad Hallford, Phoebe Vice President of compliance. “The hospital has taken the necessary steps to reinforce and refine staff procedures, so that patient information is less vulnerable in the future."