November 25, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
30°F
test

Elyria police want doctor’s abandoned computer

A Care Source identification card with a patients name, address and social security number is displayed on a monitor.

A computer left behind when a doctor moved offices contains names, addresses and social security numbers of 15,000 patients. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — The Elyria Police Department is working to obtain the computer left behind by a local doctor that is now in the hands of a Wakeman woman.

Elyria Capt. Chris Costantino said the department is not involved because of anything criminal, but it will reach out to 35-year-old Jennifer Goldauskas in hopes of acquiring the computer and ensuring personal medical records are erased.

Goldauskas came to possess the computer from the former office of Dr. Chuka Onyeneke when the family doctor moved from Cleveland Street to North Abbe Road. The computer was left in the Cleveland Street office, which was home to his office for more than 15 years.

The owner of the building had the office cleaned, and Goldauskas’ fiance salvaged the computer. They quickly discovered it contains a massive amount of patient information dated between January 1996 and December 2012.

A call from a woman who believes her information was stored on the computer prompted the police to get involved.

“We just want to make sure the hard drive has been cleared and if she needs help in doing that we can assist with that,” Costantino said. “Naturally, people are concerned with the information that is out there and we just want to alleviate some of those concerns.”

Goldauskas said she thought the computer was wiped clean before she received it and decided to come forward instead of finding Onyeneke and returning the computer because she found it to be a major breach of patient privacy.

Her information also was stored on the computer, which she learned when she brought the computer to The Chronicle-Telegram to verify that the records were there.

It is unknown at this time if Onyeneke will face any fallout because of the federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. The HIPPA law gives patient the right to have their medical information protected with care taken to ensure it is not given out to anyone without permission.

Onyeneke has said he did not realize a computer had been left there, and that he thought the information all was password protected.

Rachel Seeger, spokeswoman with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights, said in an e-mail that the federal office could not opine on whether the incident constitutes a HIPPA violation.

The message did explain some of the nuances of the law. It said, following the discovery of a breach of unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more individuals, a HIPAA covered entity is required to notify all affected individuals and the secretary of Health and Human Services within 60 days. If the breach affects more than 500 persons, the media must also be notified.

Penalties for HIPPA violation are based on three-tier system that looks at culpability. The penalties range from $100 per violation up to $50,000 percent violation.

People who believe their health information privacy rights have been violated can file a compliant online.

The Office of Civil Rights enforces the HIPPA privacy rule and investigates violation claims.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.


  • No Justice Only Law

    Here is a novel idea….give the computer back to the doctor? EPD always has its crooked noses in everything. If anything it is a HIPPA violation and should be dealt with by the State Medical Board not the MAFIA that we call the EPD.

    • open your eyes

      actually the hard drive was destroyed and was handed back over to the doctor the next afternoon. People are just not seeing this whole picture, this story was put out because people should of been aware that personal information about patients was out there. Its not the computer that was brought to peoples attention,its the other computers and personal documents that where thrown in dumpsters or other people could have, that was the issue. People have the right to know.

      • Zen Grouch

        So the police are to take the word of someone parading around his dubiously found data, that he destroyed said data, end of story?

        How do the cops know that he was legally in possession of that data, and that he did actually destroy it, rather than copy it or destroy another hard drive that’s on his junk pile?

  • Zen Grouch

    Since the cops are involved, I wonder if they plan on documenting exactly how the doctor’s computer came into the hands of someone it shouldn’t have been in.

    Did the doctor hire someone to move his office?
    Were there timelines to vacate the office?
    Was the cleaning company contracted to destroy anything left behind, or could they just scavenge anything they wanted?
    Why, after the doctor identified the computer as his, did he not receive it?

    From the tone of the story, it seems like the cops might have an “I don’t want to get involved” attitude. And I guess if the doctor doesn’t complain, that’s not a bad attitude to have, when dealing with a cluster mess.

  • WTFnext

    I say the woman who found the computer should have contacted the police first. She wanted her 15 minutes of fame and that is why she contacted the media first. If the police contacted her for the computer, they should only have to ask once. If she doesn’t relinquish it, she should be charged. She has no reason not to let them insure that the hard drive is wiped clean, unless she has plans for the information on it. Even if they keep the thing as evidence, it is not like she paid for the computer.

  • beety

    The issue is that your file also contains personal and financial information. Your name, address and social security number are more of interest than your bouts of illnesses.