Important Information Regarding Patient Privacy at Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) at Southwestern Regional Medical Center is grateful that you entrusted us with your care. The safety and privacy of our patients is of the utmost importance to all of us at CTCA® and we wanted to make you aware of a recent event involving our patients’ information.
Through our Celebrate Life program, we provide opportunities for patients to celebrate key milestones as inspiration to others. Patients who become five-year cancer survivors, for example, can choose to celebrate this milestone by having an engraved leaf with their first and last name, hometown and state placed on the “Survivor Tree” which has been displayed in our hospital lobby since at least 2009.
In 2016, we created a “Digital Tree” version of the Survivor Tree which was displayed in public areas at CTCA hospitals/facilities. It was not available or accessible outside CTCA facilities. The Digital Tree included a list of survivors by name, hometown or state, and in some cases included enhanced content provided by patients, such as their cancer type, photographs and/or videos that feature highlights they wanted to share of their cancer journey.
On May 15, 2018, we learned that we may not have obtained or documented the consent from some of our patients to participate in the Celebrate Life program in accordance with federal regulations. We conducted a comprehensive review and determined that, while in most cases we had sought consent from the individuals whose personal information was included, we had not always done so.
We are sending letters to affected patients notifying them of this unauthorized disclosure of their personal information. If you believe you are affected but do not receive a letter, please call 800-234-7139.
CTCA takes the privacy and security of our patients’ information seriously and deeply regrets any concern this situation may cause. We have taken several steps to address this issue and reduce the chances of a similar issue arising in the future. We have removed our patients’ information and will display it only upon receipt of their written authorization to do so. We have also undertaken a review of our policies and procedures for obtaining patient authorization for uses and disclosures of personal information, and we are retraining our workforce members accordingly. We will also continue to evaluate privacy program enhancements as needed to reduce the chances of a similar issue arising in the future.