By law medical documents are private, which is why it was surprising pages of patient information and a laptop, were found in a dumpster at a San Antonio apartment complex.
A man, who asked to be identified only as John, made the discovery while getting rid of some boxes.
"Being in the background of having a lot of medical issues, in my life, I know what medical records look like and I recognized the font, and picked it up out of curiosity know that this should probably not be here," John said.
The documents contain the names of more than a dozen patients. There’s information about their conditions, their treatment plans, ages and even social security card numbers. Each patient is a potential victim for identity theft.
"The stuff they are having to deal with, and their family is having to deal with medically right now and emotionally,” John said. "That’s that person's livelihood, right there."
Some of the pages are marked Audie Murphy VA Hospital. Others include the University Health System logo. Both hospitals are located next to each other in San Antonio's Medical District.
"And to know that some medical professional may have just thrown it to the side, how are they being treated?" And I've felt that in the VA system personally," John said.
John served three tours in Iraq. His life changed when a bomb exploded after he entered this small house during a recon mission. He praises the medical team that saved his life and the specialist who rebuilt his shattered body. But his confidence, in the government agency that is to care for him now, has been severely shaken.
"It makes me really sad, it appalls me," John said. "It’s very personal, it scares me, I’m frighten to go to that VA clinic being a veteran, it scares me because that person, isn't a piece of paper to me, that’s another veteran."
With the idea that, no good deed goes unpunished, FOX 7 agreed to take the items that John found, and turn them in for him.
The paperwork from University Hospital was given to Leni Krikman with patient relations. FOX 7 handed over the laptop and other the patient reports to Menette Malda with VA media relations.
"Thank you very much for delivering these records to us and giving us the opportunity to look at these."
The obvious conclusion is that all the documents came from a staff person who works at both hospitals.
Different scenarios are possible. The information could have been stolen from a staff person out of their car. Bad guy dumps it into the dumpster. Or, the staff person is moving and by accident toss it into the dumpster.
"It’s sad, but I’m hoping that something like that would be the case, but still, they know, you can go to any medical facility and they have boxes to put personal information and data into," John said.
Kirkman showed us one of those boxes.
"When you have a piece of paper that you want destroyed you should be putting it directly into that box, there is a company that comes and takes everything out,” Kirkman said.
“So the policy is pretty simple, everybody knows?” FOX 7 asked.
“Absolutely,” Kirkman replied.
“This shouldn't happen?” FOX 7 asked.
“Never should happen," Kirkman replied.
John says all he wants is to have veteran's identities protected and for hospital staff to follow the rules.
"This represents every one of the veterans in Texas, and shows that they are going to do good by you, but you better watch your back, because in the end you are a piece of paper they can toss into the garbage," John said.
University Health says they've identified the person responsible for this and are notifying all of the patients involved.
Wednesday FOX 7 received a statement from the Veterans Administration, saying in part, "Our main goal is to ensure that we protect our veterans' health information. We are thankful for the veteran who came forward to report the documentation that was discovered."
It goes on to say that the person responsible sincerely apologizes for exposing the documents.