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Former Employee Accused of Stealing PHI of up to 160,000 Med Center Health Patients
Mar28

Former Employee Accused of Stealing PHI of up to 160,000 Med Center Health Patients

The Kentucky-based 6-hospital health system Med Center Health has reported a data breach affecting approximately 160,000 patients. Med Center Health believes a former employee may have stolen patients’ protected health information (PHI) prior to leaving employment. The former employee has been accused of stealing PHI including names, addresses, health insurance information, Social Security numbers, procedure codes and billing...

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UNC Health Care Reports Exposure of 1300 Prenatal Patients’ PHI
Mar21

UNC Health Care Reports Exposure of 1300 Prenatal Patients’ PHI

Prenatal patients who visited certain obstetric clinics operated by UNC Health Care are being notified that some of their protected health information has been disclosed to local health departments by mistake. Pregnancy Home Risk Screening Forms of Medicaid-eligible patients are sent to local health departments to ensure those individuals are connected with appropriate support services. However, UNC Health Care has discovered that in...

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Snapshot of Healthcare Data Breaches in February 2017
Mar21

Snapshot of Healthcare Data Breaches in February 2017

The Protenus Breach Barometer healthcare data breach report for February includes some good news. Healthcare data breaches have not risen month on month, with both January and February seeing 31 data breaches reported. The report offers some further good news. Healthcare hacking incidents fell in February, accounting for just 12% of the total number of breaches reported during the month. There was also a major fall in the number of...

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Alleged Social Media Retaliation by Doctor Breached HIPAA Privacy Rule
Mar20

Alleged Social Media Retaliation by Doctor Breached HIPAA Privacy Rule

A physician at the Dr. O Medical and Wellness Center in San Antonio, Texas allegedly retaliated against a patient by posting a video of the individual clad only in underwear on Facebook and YouTube. The doctor’s actions, which appear to be a clear violation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, have resulted in her being sanctioned by the Texas Medical Board following a complaint by the patient. The patient, Clara Aragon-Delk, underwent a series...

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New Mexico Data Breach Notification Bill Moves to Senate Judiciary Committee
Mar15

New Mexico Data Breach Notification Bill Moves to Senate Judiciary Committee

A new data breach notification bill has been unanimously passed by the New Mexico House of Representatives bringing New Mexico one step closer to becoming the 48th state to introduce data breach notification laws.  The bill (House Bill 15) – also known as the Data Breach Notification Act – was sponsored by Republican Rep. William R. Rehm of Bernalillo. The bill will now move on to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This is not the...

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68% of Healthcare Organizations Have Compromised Email Accounts
Mar10

68% of Healthcare Organizations Have Compromised Email Accounts

Evolve IP has published the results of a new study that has revealed the extent to which healthcare email credentials are being compromised and sold on the dark web. The FBI has also recently warned about Business Email Compromise (BEC). Email credentials are highly valuable to cybercriminals. A compromised email account can be plundered to obtain highly sensitive data and an email account can be used to gain access to healthcare...

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Improper Disposal of PHI Discovered by Minneapolis Heart Institute
Mar06

Improper Disposal of PHI Discovered by Minneapolis Heart Institute

A member of a cleaning crew at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital accidentally disposed of documents containing PHI with regular trash. Minneapolis Heart Institute has policies and procedures in place that require all documents containing sensitive patient health information to be securely destroyed in accordance with HIPAA Rules. However, a member of the cleaning team was discovered to have emptied a...

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Healthcare Employee Accessed ePHI Without Authorization for 5 Years
Mar06

Healthcare Employee Accessed ePHI Without Authorization for 5 Years

Healthcare professionals must have access to the protected health information of patients in order to provide medical care and perform healthcare operations. Since access to data can be abused by rogue employees, it is essential that controls are put in place to alert healthcare organizations rapidly when improper access occurs. Rapid identification of improper access can greatly reduce the harm caused. In many cases, improper access...

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Data Breach Lawsuit Against Excellus BCBS Survives Motion to Dismiss, in Part
Mar03

Data Breach Lawsuit Against Excellus BCBS Survives Motion to Dismiss, in Part

A lawsuit filed by plaintiffs whose ePHI was exposed as a result of a cyberattack on Excellus BlueCross BlueShield has survived a motion to dismiss. The United States District Court of the Western District of New York has both granted, in part, and denied, in part, the motions to dismiss. The hacking of Excellus BlueCross BlueShield in 2013 resulted in the exposure of the protected health information of more than 10 million health...

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AHIMA Publishes New Resource Confirming Patients’ PHI Access Rights under HIPAA
Mar02

AHIMA Publishes New Resource Confirming Patients’ PHI Access Rights under HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) permits patients to obtain a copy of their medical records in electronic or paper form. Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services released a series of videos and documentation to explain patients’ right to access their health data. Yesterday, the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) also published guidance – in the form of a slideshow –...

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Simplified HITRUST CSF Program Helps Small Healthcare Organizations with Compliance and Risk Management
Mar02

Simplified HITRUST CSF Program Helps Small Healthcare Organizations with Compliance and Risk Management

HITRUST has announced that it has updated the HITRUST CSF and has also launched a new CSF initiative specifically for small healthcare organizations to help them improve their resilience against cyberattacks. While the HITRUST CSF – the most widely adopted privacy and security framework – can be followed by healthcare organizations to improve their risk management and compliance efforts, for many smaller healthcare organizations...

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Theft, Hacking, Ransomware and Improper Accessing of ePHI – Attacks Coming from All Angles
Feb23

Theft, Hacking, Ransomware and Improper Accessing of ePHI – Attacks Coming from All Angles

Theft, hacking, ransomware, and improper ePHI access by employees – The past few days have seen a diverse range of healthcare data breaches reported. St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Arizona, Family Service Rochester of Minnesota, and the University of North Carolina have all reported potential breaches of patients’ ePHI, while Lexington Medical Center in South Carolina has announced that the sensitive data of its employees...

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Quarter of Americans Have Been Impacted by a Healthcare Data Breach
Feb22

Quarter of Americans Have Been Impacted by a Healthcare Data Breach

Given the volume of healthcare records that have been exposed or stolen over the past two years, it comes as little surprise that 26% of Americans believe their health data have been stolen. The figures come from a recent survey conducted by Accenture. The survey was conducted on 2,000 U.S. adults and more than a quarter said that their medical information has been stolen as a result of a healthcare data breach. Healthcare information...

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American Senior Communities Says 17,000 Employees Impacted by W-2 Scam
Feb21

American Senior Communities Says 17,000 Employees Impacted by W-2 Scam

American Senior Communities, a nursing home chain based in central Indiana, has announced that one of its employees responded to a W-2 phishing email and sent the tax information of more than 17,000 employees to tax fraudsters. There have now been more than 70 organizations that have responded to W-2 Form phishing emails so far this year according to Databreaches.net, although the latest addition to the list is the largest confirmed...

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Citizens Memorial Hospital Latest Victim of W-2 Phishing Scam
Feb17

Citizens Memorial Hospital Latest Victim of W-2 Phishing Scam

Another healthcare provider has announced that one of its employees has been fooled by a W-2 phishing scam. Citizens Memorial Hospital in Bolivar, MO., says a request for W-2 Form data was sent to one of its employees by email. The employee responded to the request believing the message was legitimate and had been sent internally. W-2 Forms for all employees at the 86-bed hospital who had taxable earnings for the 2016 fiscal year were...

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Quarter of Healthcare Organizations Do Not Encrypt Data Stored in the Cloud
Feb17

Quarter of Healthcare Organizations Do Not Encrypt Data Stored in the Cloud

A recent survey by HyTrust has revealed that a quarter of healthcare organizations do not use encryption to protect data at rest in the cloud, even though the lack of encryption potentially places sensitive data – including the protected health information of patients – at risk of being exposed. Amazon Web Service (AWS) one of the most popular choices with the healthcare industry, although many healthcare organizations are using...

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2016 Healthcare Data Breach Report Ranks Breaches By State
Feb15

2016 Healthcare Data Breach Report Ranks Breaches By State

A new 2016 healthcare data breach report has been released detailing incidents reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. While other reports have already been compiled, this latest report – compiled by data loss prevention firm Safetica USA –  shows where those data breaches occurred and the states most affected by healthcare data breaches in 2016. Data for the 2016 healthcare data breach report...

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Xerox: Nearly Half of Americans Concerned About Theft of Their Health Information
Feb13

Xerox: Nearly Half of Americans Concerned About Theft of Their Health Information

Healthcare data breaches in 2016 reached record levels, while 2015 saw more healthcare records stolen than the combined total stolen over the previous six years. Those data breaches have naturally had an effect on how healthcare patients view the security of their medical data. OCR figures show that since 2009, 166 million healthcare records have been stolen or exposed – that’s 52% of the population of the United States. It is...

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New York Giants Star and ESPN Agree to Settle Privacy Breach Lawsuit
Feb08

New York Giants Star and ESPN Agree to Settle Privacy Breach Lawsuit

A privacy breach lawsuit filed against ESPN by New York Giant’s defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has been amicably resolved. ESPN has agreed to settle the lawsuit, although the terms of the settlement have not been announced. On July 4, 2015, Pierre-Paul was involved in a fireworks accident and sustained serious burns to his hand. He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami to receive treatment for his injuries. News soon broke...

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High Costs are Preventing Many Patients from Accessing their Medical Records
Feb02

High Costs are Preventing Many Patients from Accessing their Medical Records

The HIPAA Privacy Rule permits patients to obtain a copy of their medical records from their healthcare providers on request. By obtaining copies of medical records, patients are able to take a more active role in their healthcare and treatment. Obtaining copies of medical records also makes it much easier for patients to share their medical records with other healthcare providers and make smarter choices about their healthcare. The...

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eHealth Email Spoofing Attack Sees Employee W-2 Information Disclosed
Jan31

eHealth Email Spoofing Attack Sees Employee W-2 Information Disclosed

In the past few days, two email spoofing attacks have been reported by healthcare organizations that have resulted in the W-2 information of employees being sent to cybercriminals. Tax season phishing scams are to be expected at this time of year. Cybercriminals target HR and payroll employees and try to fool them into sending the W-2 information of employees via email. The scams are convincing. A casual glance at the address of the...

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OIG: 16% Increase in Security Gaps in Medicare Contractors’ Information Security Programs
Jan30

OIG: 16% Increase in Security Gaps in Medicare Contractors’ Information Security Programs

An annual review of Medicare administrative contractors’ (MACs) information security programs has shown them to be ‘adequate in scope and sufficiency’, although a number of security gaps were found to exist. The Social Security Act requires each MAC to have its information security program evaluated on an annual basis by an independent assessor. Each MAC must have the eight major requirements of the Federal Information Security...

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Hospital Employee Discovered to Have Improperly Accessed 6,200 Patient Records
Jan26

Hospital Employee Discovered to Have Improperly Accessed 6,200 Patient Records

Covenant HealthCare has notified more than 6,000 patients that their electronic medical records were inappropriately accessed by one of its employees. The improper access was discovered during a November 2016 audit of EMR access logs. The audit revealed an unusual pattern of medical record access by a single employee. Covenant HealthCare immediately ordered a full review of ePHI access by the employee to determine which medical...

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Mailing Error Sees 1,126 Letters Sent to Patients’ Previous Addresses
Jan26

Mailing Error Sees 1,126 Letters Sent to Patients’ Previous Addresses

A ‘software glitch’ has resulted in billing statements and other communications sent by TriHealth of Cincinnati being mailed to patients’ former addresses. The privacy breach was discovered in November 2016, and impacts 1,126 TriHealth patients. The glitch caused current addresses to be substituted with former addresses. In some cases, mail may have been forwarded on to the correct address, although TriHealth was unable to determine...

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New Report Reveals 2016 Data Breach Trends
Jan26

New Report Reveals 2016 Data Breach Trends

2016 was a particularly bad year for healthcare data breaches. The healthcare industry was targeted by ransomware gangs, careless employees left healthcare records exposed, and hackers broke through defenses on numerous occasions. 2016 was nowhere near as bad as 2015 in terms of the number of healthcare records stolen or exposed, but more healthcare data breaches were reported in 2016 than in previous years. But how did 2016 compare...

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Court of Appeals Rules Horizon BCBS Class Action Has Standing Without Evidence of ID Theft
Jan24

Court of Appeals Rules Horizon BCBS Class Action Has Standing Without Evidence of ID Theft

The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has ruled that a class action lawsuit filed by customers of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield whose protected health information was exposed when two laptop computers were stolen from its New Jersey offices does have standing, even without proof of harm. The case had previously been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Claire Cecchi. The incident which led to the lawsuit occurred...

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Hacking Group Attempts to Extort Funds from Cancer Services Provider
Jan20

Hacking Group Attempts to Extort Funds from Cancer Services Provider

TheDarkOverlord has struck again, this time the victim was a small Indiana cancer charity. The attack occurred on January 11 and was accompanied with a 50 Bitcoin ($43,000) ransom demand. Little Red Door Cancer Services of East Central Indiana was threatened with the publication of confidential data if the ransom was not paid. The charitable organization provides a range of services to help victims of cancer live normal lives during...

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Protenus Releases 2016 Healthcare Data Breach Report
Jan20

Protenus Releases 2016 Healthcare Data Breach Report

Protenus, in conjunction with Databreaches.net, has published its 2016 healthcare data breach report, summarizing the hacks and mishaps that have resulted in patient and health plan members’ protected health information being exposed or stolen. Fortunately, 2016 has not seen the mega data breaches of 2015, although it has been far from a good year. More than 27 million healthcare records were stolen in 2016 across 450 reported data...

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Final Rule Updating Common Rule Regulations Issued by HHS
Jan20

Final Rule Updating Common Rule Regulations Issued by HHS

The Department of Health and Human Services has published its Final Rule for the Common Rule (45 CFR part 46). The Final Rule makes considerable changes to the Common Rule, although some of the most controversial elements which were included in the September 2015 proposed rule have been dropped. One of the proposed changes would have made it much harder for research organizations to use biomedical samples for research. Rather than...

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No HIPAA Violation Fine for Virginia State Senator
Jan19

No HIPAA Violation Fine for Virginia State Senator

While campaigning to become Republican state senator for Virginia in 2015, Henrico County physician Siobhan Dunnavant, M.D., used patients’ contact information – classed as protected health information under HIPAA Rules – to solicit donations from patients to help fund her campaign. Contact information – names and addresses – was shared with her campaign team and was used to communicate with patients. The same information...

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