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Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center Notifies Patients of Phishing Incident

Memphis, MI-based Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center, a provider of substance abuse treatment and care services for patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, has discovered an unauthorized individual has gained access to the email account of an employee following a response to a phishing email.

The email account was breached between April 5 and April 7, 2018. It is unclear when the phishing attack was detected by the rehabilitation center, but the investigation into the breach concluded in November and revealed the account contained some patients’ protected health information. Individuals whose PHI was exposed were sent notification letters on January 9, 2018.

The types of information contained in the compromised account included patients’ names, home addresses, diagnoses, treatment information, health insurance information, and Social Security numbers.

The number of patients affected by the breach has not been publicly disclosed at this point and the breach has not yet been listed on the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights breach portal. Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center has said not all patients were affected.

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All patients whose PHI was exposed as a result of the attack have been offered complimentary credit monitoring and identity theft protection services for 12 months and have been advised to monitor their financial accounts and explanation of benefits statements for signs of misuse of their PHI. To date, no reports of PHI misuse have been received by Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center.

To reduce the risk of further successful phishing attacks, additional security measures have been implemented and employees have received further security awareness training.

It has not been a great end to the year for healthcare organizations in Michigan. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan announced in December that two data breaches had occurred, which together impacted more than 16,000 individuals. A phishing attack was also reported by Kent County Community Mental Health Authority, which affected 2,200 patients.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.