For any organization that deals with individual people and their contact information, it's absolutely vital to have sound strategies in place for address verification. There can be serious consequences if not - when mailings are sent to the wrong addresses, it causes a great deal of embarrassment and logistical hassle for both the senders and recipients.
This is especially true in the medical field, where physicians, nurses and health insurance providers have access to a great deal of sensitive information about people's medical conditions and financial statuses. Taking good care of all this data is paramount, as no one wants to deal with the repercussions when these things go wrong.
Unfortunately, mistakes do happen. One such incident recently arose in Indiana, where a massive clerical error led to a very large mailing being sent to the incorrect recipients. According to WTHR Channel 13 in Indianapolis, a hospital in the city sent 63,000 letters intended for its patients to other people's addresses.
The letters in question disclosed a great deal of the patients' personal information - including their names, addresses and some references to medical appointments that they had scheduled. Luckily, their Social Security numbers and financial information was mostly kept under wraps.
The hospital noted in a press release that it was working to alleviate the problems caused by the erroneous mailing - St. Vincent officials said they were "actively supporting and responding to patients," and furthermore there was "no indication that the patient information will be accessed or used for fraudulent purposes."
"We value the privacy and security of patient information and regret this mailing error," added Rex McKinney, privacy officer for St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, according to WTHR.
While these address verification errors are fixable after the fact, they still present numerous difficulties to organizations everywhere. Cleansing contact data preemptively is the best way to solve this problem.