The Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) has notified 2,500 patients that their personal and health information has been lost in the mail.

The affected patients were mothers and newborns enrolled in the newborn screening program operated by ADHS. The compromised information was contained on paper records, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers, health insurance information, dates of birth and telephone numbers, which was placed into two boxes and sent via U.S. mail from Phoenix, Arizona to Carbondale, Illinois for billing purposes. One box arrived at the destination, and the other didn’t. The last time the box was tracked, it was located at the Phoenix U.S. Postal Service facility. However, it hasn’t been located.

This incident is a stark reminder that paper records may contain high risk data and should be protected just like electronic data. It is important to evaluate the processes of how high risk data, both paper and electronic, should be transmitted in order to avoid compromise.