Insider Wrongdoing Breach at Kentucky Counseling Center Impacts 16,440 Patients

Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) has discovered a list of 16,440 patients has been stolen and disclosed to another individual. A current employee is suspected of accessing and copying patient information without authorization, uploading the data to an anonymous file sharing service, and subsequently sending a hyperlink to the list to a former employee of KCC.

The former employee received the link to the patient list on January 6, 2019 and reported the privacy breach to KCC.

KCC launched an investigation into the insider breach to determine when the list was obtained and who was responsible. KCC believes the list was downloaded and stolen on December 6, 2018 by a then current employee of KCC. That person is no longer employed at the Counseling Center.

The motivations behind the HIPAA violations are unclear – Both the unauthorized access/theft and the subsequent impermissible disclosure to a former employee. KCC explained in its breach notification letter that there is no reason to believe that the list was taken with the intent of causing harm to patients.

However, due to the nature of the data contained in the list the decision was taken to offer credit monitoring services to affected patients for 12 months without charge.

The types of information in the list varied from patient to patient and may have included the following data elements: Full name, address, date of birth, phone numbers, gender, marital status, employment status, insurance payor, insurance number, Social Security number, last and next appointment dates, and KCC clinician name.

The measures taken to prevent further incidents such as this from occurring in the future include strengthening passwords and implementing multi-factor authentication on its computer system.

The KCC breach notice does not mention whether the person responsible was fired or left KCC of his/her own accord nor whether the matter has been referred to law enforcement.

Author: Steve Alder has many years of experience as a journalist, and comes from a background in market research. He is a specialist on legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA. Steve holds a B.Sc. from the University of Liverpool.