Texas Health and Human Services Commission Reports Improper Disposal of 1,800 Patient Records

A box of paper forms has been discovered to have been improperly disposed of by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission recently announced that the paperwork was discovered in a box next to a dumpster used by one of its eligibility offices in the E. 40th St. complex in Houston.

An investigation into the improper disposal has been launched and steps are being taken to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. Those steps will include a review of the processes and procedures for permanently destroying documents containing protected health information.

Texas Health and Human Services Commission is in the process of issuing breach notification letters to all affected individuals. The breach summary on the Department of Health and Human Services breach portal indicates 1,842 patients were impacted. Those individuals all reside in the Houston area.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission says the forms contained protected health information such as names, dates of birth, client numbers, case numbers and telephone numbers, and potentially also mailing addresses, health information, bank account numbers and Social Security numbers.

All individuals impacted by the breach have been offered credit monitoring services for a period of 12 months without charge, although the commission pointed out that no evidence has been uncovered to suggest any of the forms have been accessed by unauthorized individuals.

This is the second data breach in the space of a year reported by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. In June last year, the commission was informed by Iron Mountain that boxes had been removed from three of its storage facilities. The boxes contained forms relating to individuals who had applied for medical assistance, with the incident impacting 600 individuals.

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.