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Nerves rattled by identity theft involving LSU Health employee

Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 7:00am

LSU Health is already working to restore its reputation after an employee allegedly stole the identities of hundreds of patients.

A spokesman told FOX44 News Wednesday that the organization has already begun a review of its policies and procedures regarding the privacy of patients' personal information.

Authorities say roughly 400 patients from Louisiana and beyond have to go through the process of reclaiming their lives.

People in Baton Rouge says LSU Health has to reclaim their trust

"That's a lot of people," Derrick Pierce said. "A lot of people got robbed."

Police arrested seven people for their parts in the identity theft ring, including Pamela Reams, who worked in the billing department. Detectives say she admitted stealing personal information from a hospital database to write counterfeit checks.

"Well, the economy is bad, and the people that's in authority... it's unfair to those that's struggling," said Michael Causey.

"Makes it worse, yeah," agreed Pat Galik. "Because they're supposed to be honoring the person that's at the place."

For some, this investigation will make them much more cautious with their financial information, no matter where they are.

"You got to be very careful," said Earnest Smith. "Like they say, you got to look behind you, in front, everywhere."

But in an emergency, they will not put their wallets in front of their health.

"No, I'm still go to the hospital," Pierce said. "If I get sick, I'm going to the hospital."

In a statement, LSU Health said: "in an effort to protect the reputation and financial interests of our patients, the LSU Health Care Services Division (HCSD) is cooperating to the fullest extent possible with law enforcement personnel involved in this investigation.

"LSU HCSD has also begun its own investigation into the incident. The illegal use by the employee of patient checking account information has directly led HCSD to reevaluate its policies and procedures relating to employee access of patient confidential information.

"Late last week, LSU HCSD received from law enforcement copies of the check images printed by the employee and seized from her residence. Immediately upon receiving this information, HCSD began to determine which of its patients were affected and to notify them by phone and letter as required by HIPAA and other federal regulations."

Some people think LSU Health needs to put in tougher criteria for anyone applying for a job in the billing department.

"Yeah," Galik said. "But how you going to do that?" 

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