Share this article on:
Midland Memorial Hospital has announced that some of its patients’ protected health information has potentially been viewed by unauthorized individuals.
On April 8, 2016, the Midland, Texas-based hospital was alerted to a privacy breach that exposed patients’ names, addresses, dates of birth, medical diagnoses, medications, medical procedures, physician’s notes, medical record unit numbers, medical account numbers, and health information. In some cases, patients also had their Social Security numbers exposed.
Patients’ PHI was left unprotected at a private residence by Mario M. Gross, M.D., a physician who had previously worked at the hospital. The paper files were left in an area where they could potentially have been accessed by members of the public.
Once alerted to the security breach, staff from the hospital visited the residence and retrieved and secured the records. The hospital was unable to determine whether the records had actually been viewed by unauthorized individuals during the time that they were accessible; however, no evidence has been uncovered to suggest that any information was used inappropriately.
Patients are now in the process of being notified of the breach. Patients whose Social Security numbers were exposed have been offered a year of complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection services to reduce the risk of harm or loss being suffered as a result of the breach.
Midland Memorial Hospital is now reviewing policies and procedures to ensure that similar incidents are prevented in the future. Members of staff who have access to patient health information will be reminded of their obligations to protect the privacy of patients. Medical staff will also be tasked with updating their own controls to ensure that the records of their patients are appropriately protected at all times.
The breach has been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights. The breach report indicates 1,468 patients have been affected.