Personal Records Thrown In Dumpster From Topeka Dental Service Company


TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Last week 13 News reported about confidential records found in a dumpster behind a Topeka office building.

Since then, 13 News has been investigating to find out where those documents came from, and it seems the origin isn't too far away from where they were found.

Jim Bunker was moving into an office building at 1725 Southwest Gage Boulevard last week when he found numerous confidential documents in a dumpster - documents from several midwest states complete with names, addresses, phone numbers and social security numbers.

Jim said when he discovered it, the dumpster was filled to the top with the files.

He called the Kansas Attorney General's office and those documents are now spurring an investigation.

13 News decided to go back to 1725 and see what businesses are in that building and meet with Jim again. Before meeting with Jim, the only information 13 News could conclude was that a dental office was inside the building and may be the only one with access to medical-type records.

Jim found an additional file that contained dental hygienist examination and application information of a woman from Minnesota. The company listed in several papers within the file is Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc., the dental company inside the office building.

Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. is in charge of dental testing services for an 18-state area. It examines applicants who want to study dentistry or dental hygiene. Its members are the State Boards of Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

13 News called CRDTS and an office manager said the company would have no comment. She did refer us to Kimber Cobb, the director of dental examinations. On Wednesday, lawyers for Cobb sent us the following statement:

An employee of Central Regional Dental Testing Service, Inc. (CRDTS) improperly disposed of files containing sensitive and private personal information. Maintaining the confidentiality of the information we collect is extremely important to us. CRDTS has a policy for disposing of this type of information in a manner which protects individual privacy; unfortunately, that policy was not followed in this instance. We are investigating this matter internally and taking every measure to ensure that this does not happen in the future. CRDTS plans to cooperate fully with any Kansas Attorney General investigation.

We also reached out to the Minnesota woman whose records were dumped in the trash. They date back to 2002. We located her on Facebook but have not been able to talk with her to tell her that her picture, social security number and other private information is listed in the documents Jim Bunker found.

Medical Attorney Ron Pope told 13 News this woman could sue because what happened could have violated her right to privacy.

"Throwing other people's social security numbers out in a manner where they can be easily found and retrieved by others really is not something that is tolerable because of the ramifications it could have," Pope said. "I think most people have an expectation that a business would secure documents."

Within the woman's file were also medical information on two people who signed treatment consent forms for the woman to perform a dental hygiene exam.

Pope said the facility that did not dispose of medical records would receive fines. He said the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not provide remedy for patients; that patients rights come through right of privacy.

13 News will continue to try to contact the Minnesota woman and also get a comment from Central Regional Dental Testing.

The Attorney General's office will not release any additional information, but say the investigation is ongoing.


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