Medical records are supposed to be confidential and not tossed in a back alley where anyone can see them, but NY1 has found out that this happened at Staten Island University Hospital's South Shore site. NY1's Aaron Dickens filed the following exclusive report.
Irene Castelli's husband Joe suffered from chest pain on Friday and was admitted to Staten Island University Hospital's South Shore site, in Prince's Bay. He was still there Monday, but anyone who wanted to know about Joe could find plenty about him without asking. His medical record was left in a dumpster in the back of the hospital.
"That's terrible. He's not even cured yet and he's out in the dumpster," Irene Castelli said.
The record had Joe Castelli's name, date of birth, phone number and other information, but he wasn't alone. The records of hundreds of other patients, with information from diagnosis to discharge, were also left in the dumpster, available to anyone passing by, in clear violation of federal law.
"I can't understand it...it makes absolutely no sense," said Ines Castania, Joe Castelli's sister.
It also made no sense to an SIUH employee who recently contacted NY1 and asked that the station not use his name or show his face. He said he has seen the records being thrown out without being shredded or mutilated for several years.
"I feel that's wrong because you are exploiting people's identification," he said.
He also said he has alerted management and nothing has been done.
"We asked about why it was being done like that. We were told, 'Just do your job,'" the employee said.
Before he was a mechanic at this auto shop in Mariners Harbor, Robert Meyers said he worked at the hospital for 15 years and tossed medical records for several of them. He said he finally confronted his boss in 2011.
"Those papers don't get burnt, they go to the dump," Meyers said. "They didn't want to here nothing, just throw them out, throw them out."
NY1 reached out to SIUH officials, who said they are looking into the situation.
Meanwhile, Irene Castelli said her husband is doing OK and is awaiting test results. She said she just hopes they don't wind up in the trash.