Confidential files mistakenly posted on Web by U employee

Anne Preller

After a University psychologist unknowingly transmitted a series of personal physiological evaluations on the Web last month, University workers began calls to 20 sets of parents Wednesday.

The newly trained psychologist said she thought she was sending personal files to a secure computer at her graduate school, the University of Montana. Instead, the records were posted on the university’s Web site.

The site publicized files on children the psychologist had evaluated while interning at the Children’s Hospital in St. Paul. The documents were Microsoft Word documents originating from a computer owned by the psychologist.

“It was an accidental upload of information to a site on the University of Montana Web site this individual thought was secure,” said Allison Sandve, spokeswoman for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics.

University officials did not reveal the psychologist’s identity.

“It was a terrible mistake,” said Dr. Greg Vercellotti, senior associate dean at the University. “It really cuts to the core values of our profession.”

“Our first priority right now is continuing to cooperate with the University of Montana to determine the families that were affected, notify and apologize to those families,” said Julie Morath, chief operating officer of Children’s Hospital.

Sandve said the hospital is very committed to patient confidentiality and they are studying the mistake to build additional safeguards so “nothing like this ever happens again.”

“This is something we feel terrible about,” she said.

– Anne Preller