More than 1,400 Howard University Hospital patients accidentally received letters intended for other patients with the same last names, the university disclosed on Friday.
The letters contained only the patients’ names, their account numbers and the dates that they visited Howard University doctors, not any other personal information, the university said in a statement. The unintentional recipients of the letters did not learn birth dates, Social Security numbers, medical history or other sensitive information about the strangers who happen to share their last names.
The university said that the Faculty Practice Plan, which includes the medical practices of Howard University doctors, hired two companies — California Healthcare Medical Billing, Inc. and JP Recovery Services, Inc. — to mail letters to patients who had not paid their bills.
When the companies sent out the letters on May 6, 1,445 letters went to the wrong people, due to a data error that caused letters to go out to people with the right surnames, but the wrong addresses.
The university said that it became aware of the error on May 11 and will individually notify all of the affected patients.