VA transcription vendor suspended for patient data rule violation

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During an internal inspection, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) discovered that a contractor providing medical transcription services was not following its medical information privacy rules.

The VA said that the issue involves a contractor whose employees create written transcripts of recordings made by healthcare professionals while performing physical exams, reporting on surgeries and taking patients' histories. VA officials found the contractor's employees used computers that do not adhere to government policy on security.

Although the department said that there is no evidence that any patient information was disclosed as a result of the violation, the VA suspended the contractor from receiving any sensitive information until the contractor guarantees compliance with VA's standards for IT security.

"VA insists that contractors, as well as our own personnel, adhere to the highest standards for protecting personal information," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  "When we detect a problem, as happened in this case, we will quickly fix it, and we will ensure such problems are not happening elsewhere."

Based on the incident, the Secretary has launched an intensive exam of all VA contracts to ensure all contractors properly safeguard information about its patients and employees.