Man arrested in hospital ID theft

April 15, 2008 4:11:57 PM PDT
A worker at a prestigious Manhattan hospital is under arrest Tuesday. He is charged with stealing and selling the personal information of thousands of patients. That includes social security numbers and addresses.

Eyewitness News reporter NJ Burkett has more on how police say the suspect was able to get access to the records.

Staffers at New York Presbyterian Hospital spent a third full day Tuesday tracking down patients. They are identifying nearly 50,000 people who may be victims of identity theft.

Federal prosecutors say their information was sold by Dwight McPherson, a hospital admissions clerk.

"I think it's terrible," said Dr. Oren Friedman, of the critical care unit. "I mean, we always try to be very careful in the health care system to keep records quiet, mostly for health care matters. But it certainly sounds like, in this situation, that it's social security numbers and other private information, which brings up a whole other sort of risk."

Federal agents say McPherson used his hospital computer to access thousands of patient records after agreeing to provide thieves with, "the personal identifying information to include the names, addresses and social security number of male patients born between 1950 and 1970."

Prosecutors say he made two sales in late 2007 and 2008. Information on 2,000 patients was allegedly sold for $1,350.

McPherson is free on bail and did not answer the door at his home in the Bronx. Hospital officials say every potential victim is being contacted and that no medical information was released.

Everyone who is affected should receive a letter by the end of the week, a hospital spokesperson said.

Although McPherson had access to thousands of patients, he told prosecutors he was only seeking the records of middle-aged men. But hospital officials are notifying everyone in McPherson's database, just to be safe.