TOPEKA, Kan. (KMOX/AP) — Kansas lawmakers are calling for justice for thousands of women whose medical records were discarded by a former abortion provider and found in a public recycling bin. What form it will take and how to hold accountable a doctor already stripped of his license is unknown.
Large stacks of records were dumped in an unlocked recycling by the Brookridge elementary school on 99th street and Lowell Ave. by Krishna Rajanna, who practiced at Affordable Medical and Surgical Services on 1030 Central Avenue in Kansas City, Kan.
According to a report from the Associated Press, the clinic shut down in 2005, shortly after its doctor, Krishna Rajanna, lost his Kansas medical license after state inspectors found too many infractions in surprise visits to the office. Rajanna told the AP he still has documents stored in his home in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.
An Overland Park woman discovered the documents by chance. She preferred not to give her name and told the AP she called her daughter — a nurse — right away. Her daughter then called police and the Kansas City Star when the dispatcher said it wouldn’t send an officer. A spokesman for the Overland Park Police Department told the Associated Press the dispatcher responded inappropriately.
A reporter with the Kansas City Star transported the documents to its offices in Kansas City, Mo. where they were kept locked in a desk drawer. Access was given only to select reporters and editors who learned these records contained information written in patients’ own handwriting. The Star report said some reports had tabs identifying patients as minors and other notes said some patients had changed their minds or were too far along to receive the procedure. While many women were from the Kansas City region, some came from as far as Freeman, Mo.
A statement published by The Star said the newspaper took possession of the documents for the purposes of protecting the records and ensuring the news of their improper disposal was accurately reported.
“In the process of reporting this story, faced with extraordinary circumstances, we felt it was essential to ensure the privacy of the patients involved,” said Mike Fannin, editor and vice president of The Star in the statement.
Staff avoided patients’ named but examined dates on the records because it is illegal to dispose of medical records that aren’t more than 10 years old. The Star’s examination discovered that many files were newer than 2002.
The Star said no copies or scans were made before representatives turned over the records to the state Board of Healing Arts. The board said it will properly dispose of records more than 10 years old.
The board’s general counsel told the AP that Rajanna still has legal obligations to keep medical records confidential but added the board’s jurisdiction over him is limited considering he is no longer a licensed doctor.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe told the AP that his office will examine whether Rajanna’s actions violated state consumer protection laws, which are enforced through civil lawsuits. It may contact federal officials about potential violations of patient privacy laws.
He said it’s unlikely Rajanna will face criminal charges.
The case is currently under investigation by local police, the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office and the board, which may ask a court to send the younger documents to an outside custodian for storage.
(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)