Florida: Six More Palm Beach County Workers Opened Secret AIDS, HIV List
February 23, 2005
On Tuesday, Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Jean Malecki reported that six more county health workers had opened an e-mail containing a confidential list identifying HIV/AIDS patients. Two of the six workers printed the list but shredded it when they saw its contents. Sixteen employees are now known to have opened the e-mail, which was sent Feb. 17.Adapted from:
The list contained the names of about 4,000 AIDS patients and 2,500 people with HIV in the county. John W. "Jack" Nolan, the county's top HIV statistician, accidentally attached the list to monthly reports he sent out to 800 employees. Upon discovering the mistake, officials quickly shut down the e-mail system. Malecki said the e-mail was available in the system for "a maximum of 10-12 minutes." She added that county investigators found no evidence the e-mail was saved, forwarded or distributed outside the county system.
As soon as the Palm Beach County mistake was reported, the state Health Department began sending confidential files in separate e-mail folders, said spokesperson Lindsay Hodges, a policy change made "statewide, not just for Palm Beach County."
The deliberate release of identities and medical information on HIV/AIDS patients is classed as a third-degree felony. On Tuesday, an investigator from the state health department's inspector general's office arrived and began interviewing Nolan and other employees.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.