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Hospital privacy breach impacts more than 1,000 patients

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A new patient room seen at the Adult Urgent Care Center at Zuckerberg SF General Hospital in San Francisco, Calif., on Tuesday, February 12, 2019.

The San Francisco Department of Public Health announced Tuesday a privacy breach at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital involving patients’ meal tray tickets that were improperly disposed into regular garbage bins.

The tickets, which contained patients’ full names, birth month and day, bed/unit location at the hospital, diet information and menu received, were supposed to go into confidential shredder bins, public health officials said.

The improper disposal by a Food and Nutrition Services employee took place between June 18 and Nov. 4. The department learned of the mistake on Nov. 15 when the employee said he had been improperly disposing them since June.

Letters are being sent to the 1,174 patients treated in the affected units where the employee delivered meal trays. That employee and all staff who deliver food trays have also been counseled on the hospital’s proper disposal procedures.

There has been no evidence that any of the personal information was misused, and the risk of identity theft is low. Any patients with questions about the privacy breach can call the SFDPH privacy office’s toll-free number at (855) 729-6040 and reference “FNS” or “2019-198” in the message.

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