Alive Hospice’s breach notification required a second breach notification

It occasionally happens that a breach or incident response creates a second incident of its own.  That seems to be the case with Alive Hospice, as this newest press release suggests, but does this require second notification to HHS/OCR? My first impression is that it would, but I’m interested to hear what HIPAA lawyers might think.

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — On July 3, 2019, Alive Hospice undertook a mailing of notification letters to individuals potentially affected by a recent data privacy incident.  On or about July 9, 2019, Alive learned that an error occurred in the address export process for the mailing which resulted in the notification letters being addressed to the incorrect recipient. Alive Hospice immediately took steps to correct the address error and mailed a corrective letter to all recipients of the July 3, 2019 mailing.  This subsequent notice included a statement explaining the issue with the prior mailing.  The notification letters mailed on July 3, 2019, did not include any reference to treatment through Alive, nor did they make reference to protected health or patient information.  The letters included the incorrect recipient’s name and referenced Alive Hospice as the entity making the notification.

Alive Hospice places the highest priority on the confidentiality, privacy, and security of the personal information in its care. Upon learning of the mailing issue, Alive Hospice took steps to correct the address error and send a corrective letter to all recipients.  The corrective letter also included information on steps individuals may take to protect personal information, including: encouragement to remain vigilant against incidents of identity theft and fraud, to review account statements, and to monitor credit reports and explanation of benefits forms for suspicious activity; information on obtaining a free credit report annually from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus by visiting, calling 877-322-8228, or contacting the three major credit bureaus directly at: Equifax, P.O. Box 105069, Atlanta, GA, 30348, 800-525-6285,; Experian, P.O. Box 2002, Allen, TX 75013, 888-397-3742,; TransUnion, P.O. Box 2000, Chester, PA 19016, 800-680-7289,; information on how to obtain more detail regarding identity theft, fraud alerts, security freezes, and the steps individuals may take to protect their information by contacting the credit bureaus, the Federal Trade Commission, or their state Attorney General.  The Federal Trade Commission can be reached at: 600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20580;; 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338); and TTY: 1-866-653-4261.

Alive Hospice has set up a dedicated assistance line to answer questions related to these notifications, which may be reached at 1-800-939-4170 (toll free), Monday through Friday from 8 am – 7 pm Central Time.

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