553 days from discovery to notification? DataBreaches asked Dental Health Management Solutions why.

Dental Health Management Solutions (“DHMS”) in Texas describes their services on LinkedIn as providing comprehensive dental services to both the government, public and private customers since 2003.

We specialize in Military Readiness for mobile and portable dentistry nationwide and in the U.S territories. We also provide dental services to Nursing Homes, Assisted Living facilities, and Correctional and Jail facilities nationwide. Using our three (3) custom-built mobile dental vehicles, we work with established and well-respected dental professionals across the state to coordinate and provide necessary dental services to those patients who are unable to seek treatment in a traditional dental setting.

On February 23, DHMS started sending notification letters to 3,205 employees and patients. A copy of their notification to the Maine Attorney General’s Office raises some questions about timeliness, though. From their letter, some of their statements and DataBreaches’ comments:

On or about August 20, 2021, DHMS became aware of a possible incident involving its network…

Comment: Their submission indicates that the breach occurred on July 19, 2021, a date that is not included in the letter. We will use  August 20, 2021 as the date of discovery. In a second submission to Maine that represents a letter to those affected, DHMS states that on or around October 21, 2021, DHMS found evidence that an unauthorized user had accessed a limited amount of data within its email environment beginning on or about August 5, 2021. They state that it wasn’t until September 21, 2022, however, following a review of its email environment, that DHMS engaged a specialized third-party data mining firm to review one compromised email account.

Based on the results of an investigation conducted by third-party data mining vendors, DHMS determined that the following elements of personal information may have been accessed and/or acquired by an unauthorized individual:

Comment: “May have been accessed and/or acquired…?” So they do not know for certain whether data was acquired?

Why did it take 553 days from discovery to notify patients? Is the delay acceptable? Applying the standards for HIPAA-covered entities, and having reported on many breaches by now,  DataBreaches believes a delay that long is not acceptable unless there are factors we do not know about in play. DataBreaches sent inquiries to both DHMS and their external counsel at Wilson Elser to ask for an explanation for the serious delay. No replies have been received.

There is currently no notice on HHS’s breach site (but they often have a delay in posting), and there is nothing on the Texas Attorney General’s breach site. Nor is there any notice on DHMS’s website.

This post will be updated if more information becomes available.


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