Ohio VA hospital records found at private home
The Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center is notifying 16 people that medical records containing their personal information were found at the former home of a now- deceased employee. The find drew more attention to a hospital recently scrutinized amid allegations of poor hygiene at a dental clinic and improper conduct by an anesthesia unit employee.
The home’s current owner found the boxed records in an attic and contacted police about two months ago, the Dayton Daily News reported. The police report indicated no one at the hospital knew why or how someone removed the records, which included birth dates and Social Security numbers.
Former Marine Angelo Arnold of Centerville said he learned about the problem this week in a letter from medical-center Director Glenn Costie.
“This is a grievous injustice to veterans,” the 51-year-old Arnold told the newspaper. “Someone has to be accountable at the Dayton VA. This sends a message that certain VA staffers are very careless and reckless with our files.”
The director’s letter to Arnold said he could file a privacy complaint and take steps to avoid identity theft.
“VA takes our obligation to honor and serve America’s veterans very seriously,” Costie wrote. “We believe it is important for you to be fully informed of any potential risk to you, and apologize for any inconvenience or concern this situation may cause.”
Costie vowed last year to build confidence in the Dayton center when he took over after it was rocked by allegations of improper hygiene practices by a dental-clinic dentist who has denied those claims. More than 500 veterans who had undergone invasive procedures in the clinic had their blood tested as a result, and hospital officials said three tested positive for hepatitis, though they weren’t certain how the clients contracted it.
The center this year also began investigating allegations that a doctor drew blood from patients under anesthesia without their knowledge or consent.
In a statement to the newspaper, the VA indicated it couldn’t fully explain what happened with the records found in the attic and described the situation as an “unfortunate and isolated event.”
“Unfortunately, the only party who truly knows is the deceased individual,” the hospital said. It declined to identify the former employee and did not say what job that person held.
Arnold said he gets partial-disability payments from the VA because an accident at a Marine base injured his spine in 1979. He said he wonders whether his denied requests for more disability compensation would have been affected by the recently found records. He’s appealing the denials.