BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler announced a settlement Tuesday with a Laurel physician to resolve allegations of improperly disposing of medical records containing the personal information of patients.

Marie Dobyns, doing business as Amos Medical Services, allegedly failed to properly dispose of outdated medical records containing private and sensitive consumer information. When Amos Medical Services moved its office location in May, the company allegedly threw about 400 patient records into the dumpster.

"Businesses have a responsibility to protect consumers' privacy so that their information does not fall into the wrong hands and used to cause harm," Gansler said. "When a physician's office disposes of its patient records that contain personal consumer information, including sensitive health information, it needs to shred them or take other steps to ensure that a consumer's privacy is not compromised."

Under the Maryland Consumer Protect Act, a company must take reasonable steps to protect its customers against unauthorized access to or use of personal information.

Gansler's Consumer Protection Division does not think any personal information from the customers of Amos Medical Services was compromised. Upon the discovery of the files, the patient records were retrieved from the dumpster and given to a shredding company to properly destroy them.

Under the terms of the settlement, Dobyns and Amos Medical Services must pay a $20,000 penalty and take future steps to protect against the unauthorized access to sensitive or personal consumer information when disposing of records.

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