Private Patient Information Published by Contra Costa County

Names of residents who owed money to the health department were accidentally published.

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    The names were published in a report.

    Contra Costa County officials mailed out notices today warning that the names of residents who owed money to the county health department were inadvertently published in a public document, violating patient privacy.

    The names were published in a report to the Board of Supervisors dated July 27, 2010. It was generated by the County's Office of Revenue Collection, a department which has since been dissolved due to budget cuts, officials said.

    It was only last week, however, that the county discovered that the report included patient names. While no medical information was released, the report constitutes a breach of patient confidentiality laws.

    The state Department of Public Health has been notified, and an internal investigation launched. In addition to the letters sent out today to those on the list, the county has taken steps to remove the information from the online report and posted notices to the media and to the county Website about the disclosure, officials said.

    Patients receiving the letters are not required to respond but if they have questions or concerns, they can contact Patient Financial Services at (925) 957-7400 or the Contra Costa Health Services toll-free 24-hour Privacy Hotline at (800) 659-4611.

    Bay City News contributed to this report.