Texas' Harris County Hospital District recently began notifying approximately 3,000 patients that their personal information may have been improperly accessed by a former employee.

That information may have included each patient's name, address, phone number, date of birth, sex, Social Security number, medical record number, emergency contact information, and information about medical care received between April 14, 2008 and February 11, 2011.

"The former employee had been authorized to view your information in order to perform his daily job duties, and the alleged misuse of your information, as far as we know at this time, was designed by the former employee to defraud Medicare and not you," the district said in a statement [PDF file].

"Officials said they do not know how many patients' information was misused," Click2Houston reports. "Letters have been mailed to patients whose information was accessed by the employee, officials said. The hospital district has offered 12 months of ID theft recovery services to those patients at no charge."

"The hospital district declined to name the former employee. The U.S. Department of Justice identified him as Jarvis Thomas," writes The Houston Chronicle's Terri Langford. "Thomas was among 107 people named in a nationwide Medicare fraud sweep in May. He is accused of selling patient information to Jackson Home Healthcare owner Valdie Jackson, who would, in turn, disclose that information to others, including the employees of Houston Compassionate Care Inc., operated by Valnita Turner."

"The charges also allege that Mr. Thomas and Ms. Jackson would use the patient information to bill Medicare for services that were not needed or not provided," writes Becker's Hospital Review's Kathleen Roney.