Mailing error may have exposed Michigan Medicine patients’ contact information

Author | Beata Mostafavi

Michigan Medicine is notifying approximately 3,700 patients about a mailing mistake that may have exposed their names and contact information.

No social security numbers, credit or debit card or bank account numbers were exposed. There also was no specific medical information included in the mailings.

In early September 2018, with assistance from a vendor, a contracted printing company, the Michigan Medicine Development Office began a fundraising campaign that involved mailing a letter to a large number of Michigan Medicine patients. On Sept. 4, Michigan Medicine discovered a portion of these letters were incorrectly processed by the vendor, which resulted in letters being mailed to the incorrect patient.

The name and address printed on the envelope did not match the name and address printed on the letter inside the envelope. A letter intended for one patient may have been sent to another individual.

The information in the letter was limited. The letters included name and address, and some letters also included phone number and/or email address.

The errors occurred with the vendor’s computers and procedures after new software was put in place. Prompt steps were taken by the vendor to fix the errors and prevent future recurrences.

To further prevent potential errors, the Development Office will begin using window envelopes to eliminate the need to match letters to envelopes.

“Patient privacy is extremely important to us, and we take this matter very seriously. Michigan Medicine took steps immediately to investigate this matter,” said Jeanne Strickland, Michigan Medicine chief compliance officer. 

As a precautionary measure, affected patients have been advised to monitor their medical insurance statements for any potential evidence of fraudulent transactions using their information. However, the risk of this occurring is low because the information involved did not include account or social security numbers.

As required by federal law, Michigan Medicine is also notifying the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.

Affected Michigan Medicine patients are expected to receive letters in the mail notifying them of this incident within the next few days. Patients who have concerns or questions may call the Development Office at 734-764-6777 Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. or email [email protected].

Media Contact Public Relations

Department of Communication at Michigan Medicine

[email protected]

734-764-2220

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